Pousette-Dart: Predominantly White Paintings, an exhibition of important postwar (19491954) paintings by Richard Pousette-Dart (19161992), will be on view at The Phillips Collection
from June 5 to Sept. 12, 2010.
In 1955 at Betty Parsons Gallery, Richard Pousette-Dart exhibited a cycle of paintings that presented a radically innovative approach to the picture plane. Utilizing a restrained palette of graphite drawn on titanium white grounds, he realized an exceptional range of tonality and emotion. Through the variability of the drawn line and the occasional applications of tints of color, the artist achieved both depth and an effect of ethereal luminosity.
Now, some 55 years later, Pousette-Dart: Predominantly White Paintings highlights this seminal moment in the development of postwar American painting. The exhibition will be the first presentation of this exceptional group of paintings to a museum audience. Anchored by works such as Chavade (1951), on loan from the Museum of Modern Art (gift of Phillip Johnson), and White Garden Sky (1951), on loan from the National Gallery of Art, the exhibition will present the first scholarly investigation of this work in over half a century. In addition, a number of the artists sculptures constructed from wire will be on display, augmenting an understanding of the deft linearity of the paintings.
Pousette-Dart described the white paintings, Sometimes it seems as if I just paint one painting, from a white canvas through an experience of colors and lines and then back to white again, yet always enriched, nothing is ever lost, everything that is achieved, even though it does not appear to be present, remains, and some of my canvases are just this, a final experience of white on white having traveled through and through, like an area of ground wherein much dancing has occurred. Sometimes I feel my paintings exist not on canvas but in space, like musical progressions..."
Pousette-Dart, one of the youngest members of the emerging New York School, was born in Saint Paul, Minn., in 1916 and grew up in Westchester County, N.Y. A fiercely independent and solitary artist, he is credited with creating the first monumental, mural-sized American abstract painting in 19411942, Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental (collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art). Subsequently, Pousette-Dart played a central role in the development of what was to become abstract expressionism. His work has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions including those mounted by New Yorks Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In addition, his work is included in many museum permanent collections such as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, D.C.); Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, Texas); Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.); Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.); and Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, Minn.). In 1951, Pousette-Dart left New York City with his family and settled in upstate New York, where he lived until his death in 1992.