Larry Poons (b.1937)
Larry Poons is an important postwar American artist known for his radical pursuit of painting spanning over 50 years. An accomplished musician, he first attended the New England Conservatory of Music before transferring to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston to pursue painting. After graduation, he moved to New York where he met with early and immediate success.
He was given his first one-man exhibition in 1963 at Richard Bellamy’s famed Green Gallery, and in 1965 his work was included in MoMA’s celebrated exhibition, "The Responsive Eye." In 1969, Poons was the youngest artist featured in curator Henry Geldzahler’s landmark survey, "New York Painting and Sculpture, 1940-1970" and the only artist in the exhibition to be given an entire room.
The paintings from this period consist of optical arrangements of dots and ellipses that float against vividly painted monochromatic backgrounds. The formal elements of each of these paintings are determined by plotting points on a geometrically gridded matrix according to predetermined mathematical principles. By establishing rules that generated each painting, thus eliminating the artist from the process, Larry Poons marked a development in the history of painting shared by his longtime friend and close collaborator Frank Stella. His paintings from the next five decades characterize the artist's continued commitment to fomenting radical developments.
Beginning in the 1970s Poons began to work directly on his canvases, pouring, throwing and splashing the paint onto the surface. These works, often resembling waterfalls of color, highlight an immediacy and velocity. Working in the surround, he would paint continuously on an entire roll of canvas which he hung on a room-sized, circular framework. Following its completion- a process that might take weeks- the artist would crop individual paintings from the roll. In the late 1970s he began to build the surface of these paintings with foam, rubber, rope and typewriter paper. These surfaces became increasingly heavier and more radical dictating the composition and structure of the painting and extending dramatically into space. In the early 1990s the artist returned to his use of the paintbrush, his work continues in this vein today. This distinct oeuvre, though varied, is united by the artist’s sense of rhythm, of an all over unity of surface and by a dynamic sense of color and light.
The work of Larry Poons is included in major museum and private collections throughout the United States and abroad including the Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO, Hirschorn, Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, L.A. County Museum of Art, LA, Museum of Fine Art, Boston, Museum of Fine Art, Houston, Museum of Contemporary Art, LA, Museum of Modern Art, NY, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, The Tate Gallery, London and The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.