Richard Pousette-Dart was the youngest member of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists; the artist, along with several of his important contemporaries, took part in the formative meeting of Studio 35 and is included in the iconic Irascibles photograph. In 1951, Pousette-Dart moved with his young family to Rockland County where a small artistic community had formed. This meant that although he was an influential member of the New York school his remove allowed him to continue to develop and maintain a unique methodology and style. The artist’s relative longevity provided him the time to expand upon his earlier work, developing a mature body of work rooted in his mysticism, symbolism, and spiritual beliefs. As Philip Rylands, Director Emeritus of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection states, in the catalogue which will accompany the exhibition, “He engaged with one of the highest aspirations of the twentieth-century avant-garde: to paint a dimension inaccessible to photography. Others painted the fourth dimension, states of mind, consciousness per se, swift motion, or the passing of time, but Pousette-Dart painted the world of the spirit.”
The exhibition will span Pousette-Dart’s career, featuring a selection of fourteen paintings dating from 1943 to 1992, as well as works on paper from the 1940s exhibited for the first time. The works on view illuminate the artist’s development from his early work through his later presences paintings.
Pousette-Dart’s paintings display his painterly gifts in a wide range of techniques using brush, palette knife and paint squeezed directly from the tube. The uniqueness of each work illustrates the painter’s claim that, “every painting is a new experience and departure into the unknown.”
From the 1960s on, Pousette-Dart began creating paintings with “points” of paint rather than gestural lines and strokes. Some canvases are built up with heavy impasto and display a strong physicality, while other paintings are more thinly layered and more focused on colour and light. Later works such as Presence, Blue Amaranth and Imploding Black appear at first glance to be monochromatic visual fields, however, wide spectrums of colour emerge subtly through the points of white.
The constellation of gestures in Pousette-Dart’s paintings produced what he viewed as the works’ potential for transcendence. He wrote, “Art reveals the significant life, beauty of all forms—it uplifts, transforms it into the exalted realm of reality wherein its pure contemplative poetic being takes place—wherein art’s transcendental language of form, spirit, harmony means one universal eternal presence.”