NEW YORK, NY.- Tilton Gallery
presents the second solo exhibition of paintings by Edward Clark, focusing on works from the 1980s to the 2000s. The exhibition is on view from January 10 - February 18, 2017.
One of the early Abstract Expressionist New York painters, Ed Clark first turned to abstraction when in Paris in the early fifties, citing particularly the influence of Nicolas de Stael's abstract paintings with their flat, but richly textured areas of color. He soon developed his own painting process, employing the push broom to create wide strokes of paint that swept across his canvas surfaces. Like many artists of the New York school, Clark works large and paints on the floor, pouring and pushing acrylic paint to create his large abstract paintings. A superb colorist, influenced by the different qualities of light both at home in his top floor studio and in his travels around the world, Clark has been compared to color field and post-abstract painters both for his works' frontal and direct approach and for the emphasis on color, but his core vision remains influenced by his Abstract Expressionist beginnings. Clark's bold, gestural strokes have a performative character that reflects the physical movements of the body required in using the push broom to move the paint around. Exuberant in color and emanating light, these paintings exude expressive energy.
The present exhibition focuses primarily on the horizontal paintings, begun in the 1980s with wide bands of horizontal color. Earlier works from the seventies, both Clark's oval shaped canvases and large rectangles containing hand drawn oval shapes within that space, were also often comprised of horizontal lines and smaller bands of color. The works shown here exhibit both the simplification of the image, reducing the details of multiple lines to the use of fewer elements and the opening up of the canvas space with widening strokes. A greater emphasis on the painterly gesture reflects freer bodily movement and evokes a heightened emotional energy.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1926, Clark's family soon moved to Chicago. After serving in World War II, Clark studied under Louis Ritman at the Art Institute of Chicago (1947-51) and then under Edouard Goerg at L'Académie de la Grande Chaumiere (1952), both under the GI Bill. He remained in Paris till 1956 and continued to return to Paris frequently, spending fifteen months with Joan Mitchell in Vetheuil in 1968-69. Clark knew the work of the great French abstract painters Jean Paul Riopelle, Georges Mathieu and Pierre Soulages, but claims the influence of the expansiveness of Monet's large water lilies and the flattening out of space of Cezanne as well as the simplification of form of Nicolas de Stael. In Paris, Clark also began painting in daylight, under studio skylights, something that remained crucial to his working methods.
Ed Clark, along with Norman Lewis, Jack Whitten, Sam Gilliam, William T. Williams, and other African American painters of their generation, has influenced and inspired generations of younger artists. His and his colleagues' work has been crucial in changing the bias for figurative painting, before seen as the only means for a person of color to make a statement, and has been instrumental in leading the way for abstract painting to become accepted as just as relevant and meaningful a personal artistic expression.
Clark's work is in numerous museum collections, including those of the Smithsonian Museum of African American Art and Culture in Washington, DC, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Art Institute, the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Pérez Art Museum Miami. He exhibited at the Galerie Creuze in Paris, the Brata Gallery and Just Above Midtown Gallery in New York among others. He has been included in group exhibitions world wide and was given a retrospective at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1980 that traveled to New Orleans and Greensboro, North Carolina. He was also included in their Explorations in the City of Light: African Americans in Paris 1945-1965 in 1996-97. He exhibited at the Salon d'Automne, Paris in 1952, the Whitney Biennial in 1973, the Hirschhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. in 1976 and again at the Whitney in Beat Culture and the New America, 1950-1965 in 1995 that traveled to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis in 1997. At Tilton Gallery, Clark was included in No Greater Love: Abstraction in 2002 and had a solo show in 2014. His work is currently on exhibit at the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture and was recently included in Blues for Smoke at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles that traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio. A presentation of his work will be included in the upcoming Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, scheduled to open at the Tate Modern, London in July.
Clark has received many awards, including the Legends and Legacy Award from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award in 1998, and a National Endowment for the Arts grant for painting in 1972.