NEW YORK, NY.- Marc Payot, Partner and Vice President of Hauser & Wirth, today announced that the gallery now represents American artist Ed Clark exclusively worldwide.
Born in New Orleans in 1926 and raised in Chicago, Clark emerged in the 1950s as a pioneer of the New York School. Over the course of seven decades, his experimentation with pure color, abstract form, and the seductive materiality of paint have yielded an oeuvre of remarkable originality, extending the language of American abstraction. Clarks breakthroughs have an important place in the story of modern and contemporary art: In the late 1950s he was the first American artist credited with exhibiting a shaped canvas, an innovation that continues to reverberate today. His search for a means to breach the limitations of the conventional paintbrush led him to use a push broom to apply pigment to canvas laid out on the floor. Defying the discreet categories of gestural and hard-edged abstraction, Clark has masterfully interwoven both into a unique form of expressionism literally sweeping his medium into an atmospheric, emotive, and ultimately exuberant art.
After studying at the Art Institute of Chicago and LAcademie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris, Clark continued to live and work in France, absorbing the in uence of such European modernists as Nicolas de Staël, Pierre Soulages, and Jean-Paul Riopelle. He became a member of a social and intellectual circle of American expatriate artists and writers, including fellow African-American creative lights Beauford Delaney, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and Barbara Chase-Riboud. Clark settled in New York in 1957, where over the ensuing decade he became part of the citys dynamic downtown scene and a co-founder of the Brata Gallery, an artist-run cooperative among the Tenth Street galleries of the East Village. From the late 1960s until very recently, Clark split his time between New York and Paris, traveling extensively to other locales from Mexico and Brazil to North Africa and Greece. The artist now lives in Detroit.
Hauser & Wirths first project with Clark will be a New York solo exhibition opening at the gallery's West Chelsea space on 10 September 2019. Devoted to recent paintings, the show will be on view through 26 October 2019.
Marc Payot remarked: It is an enormous honor to work with Ed Clark. While his achievements are manifest and his paintings reside in the permanent collections of some of Americas most important museums, his oeuvre has only recently moved to the center of the radar for curators, scholars, historians, and critics. At Hauser & Wirth, the opportunity to share Clarks work with broader and more diverse audiences aligns ideally with our desire to help redress imbalances in the narrative of modern art in terms of gender, race, and geography to connect the dots through a program that includes integral but under-appreciated figures. We are excited to further explore Clarks place in the trajectory of expressive and inventive abstraction, a history that flows from such gallery artists as Arshile Gorky and Philip Guston, through Jack Whitten to Mark Bradford and other contempoprary masters. We look forward to presenting exhibitions, supporting research, creating new publications, and offering public programs that will expand understanding of this vibrant, original, significant figure in American art.
Clarks work is currently on view at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in a critically admired installation of works from the permanent collection. He is also included in the traveling exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963 1983, now on view at The Broad Museum, Los Angeles (previously at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas; Brooklyn Museum, New York; and Tate, London).
Born in 1926 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Clark spent his formative years in Chicago. He enlisted in the United States Air Force and served in Guam during World War II. Under the GI Bill, Clark attended the Art Institute of Chicago (1947 1951) then LAcademie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris (1952), where he was taught by Louis Ritman and Edouard Goerg. At the encouragement of Goerg, Clark spent many hours at museums around Paris studying the works of modernists and Old Masters. Inspired by the work of Russian-born Paris-based artist Nicolas de Staël, Clark discovered the possibility of playing with hard-edge and gestural abstraction. Thus in his paintings of the 1950s, de Staëls influence is clear: large, sensational strokes float through the canvases. During his years in Paris, Clark found himself engaging not only with fellow American expat painters Joan Mitchell and Sam Francis, but also a generation of important African-American artists who had discovered freedom in Paris from racial discrimination at home.
In 1956, Clark began exploring new ways of painting and made his first breakthrough discovery what he calls the big sweep as he began using a push broom to achieve effects that neither a hand nor standard paintbrush could render. This change instigated a dramatic shift in Clarks practice as he began experimenting with new processes. By using a standard workmans broom to push paint around a canvas on the floor, Clark could create straight, long strokes, thus extending the momentum of his sweeping gesture across an entire surface. This newfound technique produced a sense of drive within his paintings, as the slabs of thick paint brushed across the canvas appear to cut through something with a high velocity. Furthermore, by using an ordinary push broom, Clark has elevated a humble process of labor into an instrument of high art.
At the advice of sculptor George Sugarman, Clark moved to New York in 1957. As his passion for exploring unknowns in painting continued to grow, Clark naturally moved outside the traditional rectangular canvas and began experimenting with different shapes, particularly the oval. His foray into oval-shaped canvases he is credited with being the first American artist to show a shaped modern painting -- and oval motifs on rectangular canvas ground, create illusions via strips of color that never end within the form.
Clark also charted an important course through the 1950s and 1960s as a co-founder of the Brata Gallery. Along with his compatriots Al Held, Yayoi Kusama, and Ron Bladen, Clark founded the gallery in an attempt to change the way contemporary art was made and exhibited. Following nine years in New York City, Clark traveled extensively around the world. Aware of the difference that colors can take on in varying locations and circumstances of light and landscape, he journeyed in the hopes of expanding his palette and nding new shades and effects to capture in paint. The discovery of unfamiliar hues expanded Clarks artistic vocabulary immensely, with results becoming clear in the mood, energy, and volumes of his work over time.
While Clark continued to pursue abstraction with the aid of the push broom technique, his work has evolved to include a multiplicity of styles. Whereas his paintings of the 1960s and 1970s seem to largely assert the power of straight strokes, his works of the 1980s focused on tubular shapes. In the 2000s, his paintings have shifted again as Clark has sought fresh means of laying, splashing and pushing paint across canvas and exploring its expressive potentials.
Ed Clarks works are currently in the collections of many major international museums including the Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Detroit Institute of the Arts, among others. His paintings can currently be seen in the traveling exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, traveling to: Tate Modern, London; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Broad Museum, Los Angeles. Clark has also been included in numerous recent exhibitions, including: The Long Run, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2018); The Language of Abstraction, University of Maryland University College, Adelphi (2018); Modern Heroics, Newark Museum, Newark (2016); Unveiled, University of Maryland University College, Marlboro (2014); Blues for Smoke, Whitney Museum, New York, Wesner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2013); Beyond Black: Ed Clark, Eugene Martin and John T. Scott, Shaw Center for the Arts, Baton Rouge (2011); Abstract Relations, Driskell Center at University of Delaware, Newark (2011).