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Recent Acquisitions: Pat Steir, Red and Red, 2014

Red and Red, 2014, oil on canvas

Pat Steir, Red and Red, 2014, oil on canvas. Purchased through the Florence and Lansing Porter Moore 1937 Fund, the Virginia and Preston T. Kelsey ’58 Fund, the William S. Rubin Fund, and through a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Hazen, by exchange; 2014.59.

Hood Quarterly, spring 2015

In the paintings that she has made in the past year in her New York studio, including Red and Red, American artist Pat Steir (born 1938) has poured, splashed, and dripped pigment thinned with turpentine onto vertically hung canvases to create luscious washes and veils of richly colored paint. This practice is informed by the ideas of her late friend the composer John Cage, who similarly embraced chance and accident in his music and performances. The paintings form themselves through gravity and transform their own palette through the chemistry of the paint layers, while the use of drips and splashes continues Steir’s interest in extending the legacy of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and other abstract expressionist painters. Through her recent canvases with “zips” variously delineated down the middle, at times with masking tape, Steir has lately paid fond tribute to the paintings of Barnett Newman, whose work she greatly admires. The monumental Red and Red is square in format, measuring eleven by eleven feet, and is divided into two equal vertical bands or zones of color. The interstitial space where the two expanses of red meet contains surprising slices and confetti-like drips of turquoise, lilac, and orange that emerge like geological remnants from beneath the thick layers of rich crimson and rose pigments. “I’m walking a thin line between image and not image [in this painting],” Steir recently stated, “between flat and deep space.” The end result is one of the artist’s largest and most ambitious and successful abstract paintings, which pays homage to Steir’s artistic forebears while also extending and enhancing the language of abstract painting for new generations of artists and viewers.

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