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Major Museum Retrospective of Dan Christensen's Paintings Offers New Assessment
Dan Christensen, Serpens, 1968; acrylic on canvas, 112 x 173 1/2 inches; Courtesy of Spanierman Modern, New York, New York, photo: Rosalind Akin.
KANSAS CITY, MO.- For more than forty years, American artist Dan Christensen—long associated with the Color Field movement—experimented with colors, shapes, and forms in his large-scale paintings. Featuring 35 of the artist’s works of art from 1966 to 2006, the exhibition Dan Christensen: Forty Years of Painting is the first comprehensive Museum retrospective of the artist’s work since his death in 2007. The exhibition is on view May 15–August 30, 2009, at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

The exhibition Dan Christensen: Forty Years of Painting opens with a free public reception, 5:30–7:30 p.m., Friday, May 15. After its showing at the Kemper Museum, the exhibition travels to the Sheldon Museum of Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where it is on view October 23, 2009–January 31, 2010.

This survey of his paintings documents his never-ending quest to understand the possibilities of color, paint, and pictorial space. Often placed within the Color Field movement, Christensen’s experimentation with tools and techniques make him resistant to any one label or category but do place him among this country’s most ambitious abstract and gestural painters. Art critic Clement Greenberg called his work “post-painterly abstraction” and said, in 1990, “Dan Christensen is one of the painters on whom the course of American art depends.”

Born in 1942, Christensen was raised in Cozad, Nebraska. A 1964 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, the artist moved to New York in the 60s after a brief stop at the University of Indiana. Once in New York, he found immediate critical acclaim for the originality of his “ribbon” and “loop” paintings, created by using a spray gun. His works were featured in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s annual exhibitions in 1967, 1968, 1969, and in its first biennial in 1973. In 1968, he was awarded a National Endowment Grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1969.

During the 1970s, he began experimenting with new tools, paints, and techniques, and created the geometric color-field “plaid” paintings. His style continued to evolve with the “scrape” and “calligraphic” paintings of the ‘80s, and “spot” paintings—some of the most celebrated of his career—of the ‘90s. His later work reveals a return to fluid, rhythmic loops that pulse and whir with life.

Christensen’s works of art are in public and private collections around the world, and paintings for this exhibition were culled from his estate; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO; Saint Louis Art Museum; Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, NE; and private collections.






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