April 13 - May 27, 2017
In collaboration with Jason McCoy Gallery
Stephen Greene (1917-1999) was an eminent, original, abstract painter whose academic training at the National Academy of Design, the Art Students League, and the University of Iowa, where he graduated with an M.A. in 1945, grounded him in the lessons of the Renaissance. He soon acknowledged that his work was “haunted with crime and guilt” and said he wanted his paintings to reflect “the terrible things that are happening in a beautiful world.”
The twelve drawings in this show, dating from 1967 to 1974, reflect the period when Greene shifted his practice from figurative compositions about the horrors of war toward an abstraction of spare graphic evidence of human history. With a methodical approach that preserves reverie, Greene plots his action across the paper like a cartographer. Deploying bursts of color, subtle collage, deliberate smudges, and a heavy reliance on line to choreograph images within images, the invention of each composition is transparent. The mechanics of making a drawing become clear and include notations, cuneiform hieroglyphs, details of anatomical drawing, devices of measurement, and turning wheels of instruments. This collection of drawings is a visual feast and each page a diagram of itself.
Stephen Greene enjoyed six decades of exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the United States, Mexico, and Italy. His work is in many permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Tate Gallery in London.