Richard Pousette-Dart: 1930s » The Drawing Center

October 2 through December 20, 2015

Main Gallery
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 1, 6–8pm

The Drawing Center will present Richard Pousette-Dart: 1930s the first in-depth consideration of Richard Pousette-Dart’s drawings from the 1930s, a period when the artist pursued directly-carved sculpture, yet also painted, experimented with photography, and created numerous works on paper. These early drawings explore Pousette-Dart’s concerns about sculpture and working three-dimensionally, and many reference the figure through full-frontal or profile views as they consider space, orientation, and volume. Additionally, numerous studies allude to dance, animal forms, masks, and heads, and many examples offer an accumulation of abstract and geometric forms, particularly for his brasses—small sculptures meant to be “held in the hand.” The exhibition will include approximately eighty works from the 1930s including drawings, notebooks, and brasses. Curated by Brett Littman, Executive Director.

Best known as a founding member of the New York School of painting, Richard Pousette-Dart (1916-1992) initially pursued a career as a sculptor. The son of Nathaniel Pousette, a painter, art director, educator, and art writer, and Flora Louise Dart, a poet and musician, Pousette-Dart was raised in an environment surrounded by music, poetry, and the visual arts, and began drawing and painting by the age of eight. Introduced to African, Oceanic, and Native American art by his father, Pousette-Dart made frequent visits to the Museum of Natural History as a young man. In 1938, he forged a close friendship with John Graham, whose writings were closely aligned with his own interests in spiritual concerns and so-called primitive art. Throughout the 1930s, Pousette-Dart was most entranced by the work of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, whose abstract sculptures, drawings, and forms in brass greatly informed the orientation of the young American artist.

Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota on June 8, 1916, Richard Pousette-Dart was raised in Westchester County, New York. He briefly attended Bard College but left to pursue art on his own in New York City where he became part of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists. During his career, Pousette-Dart created a lexicon of biomorphic and totemic forms that provided rich visual and symbolic sources that he would explore throughout his long career in a multitude of painterly approaches. In 1982, Pousette-Dart was chosen by the International Committee of the Venice Biennale to exhibit in the main pavilion. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions including the Whitney Museum of American Art (1963, 1974, 1998); Museum of Modern Art (1969); Metropolitan Museum of Art (1997); the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy (2007), and most recently, Full Circle: Works on Paper by Richard Pousette-Dart at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2014).


Thursday, December 10 at 6:30 pm
Catalog essayists, Charles Duncan and Lowery Stokes Sims, discuss the works of Richard Pousette-Dart from the 1930s.

To accompany Richard Pousette-Dart: 1930s, The Drawing Center will produce an extensively illustrated four-color Drawing Papers featuring an introduction by Drawing Center Executive Director Brett Littman and essays by Charles Duncan, Executive Director of the Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation and Lowery Stokes Sims, Curator Emerita of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. The catalogue will be sold through The Drawing Center’s bookstore and website, and be distributed by Distributed Art Publishers.

Richard Pousette-Dart: 1930s, is made possible by the support of The Estate of Richard Pousette-Dart and Pace Gallery.

The Drawing Center, a museum in Manhattan’s SoHo district, explores the medium of drawing as primary, dynamic, and relevant to contemporary culture, the future of art and creative thought. Its activities, which are both multidisciplinary and broadly historical, include exhibitions; Open Sessions, a curated artist program encouraging community and collaboration; the Drawing Papers publication series; and education and public programs.

35 Wooster Street between Broome and Grand Streets in SoHo, New York.
Gallery hours are Wednesday-Sunday 12pm–6pm, Thursday, 12pm–8pm.
Tickets: $5 Adults, $3 Students and seniors, Children under 12 are free, and free admission Thursdays 6-8pm.

The Drawing Center is wheelchair accessible.

212.219.2166 | |

Richard Pousette-Dart » Pace Gallery, Chelsea » Extended through February 14, 2015

We are pleased to announce that Richard Pousette-Dart, an exhibition on view at Pace Gallery, 510 West 25th Street in New York, has been extended through February 14, 2015. The exhibition features works examining the artist’s use of geometric imagery from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s.

Absence / Presence: The Photographs of Richard Pousette-Dart » Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute

November 8, 2014 through January 4, 2015

Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart (1916-92) pursued photography as a serious visual enterprise throughout his long and distinguished career, creating brilliant nature studies and portraits, including those of New York School colleagues Mark Rothko, Betty Parsons, John Graham, Barnett Newman and Theodoros Stamos. In 1948 Pousette-Dart’s photographs were presented in a one-man show at the Betty Parsons Gallery and in 1953 honored by Photography Magazine, yet today this penetrating body of work is overshadowed by the artist’s immense achievements in painting. The Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute is proud to organizeAbsence/Presence, the first museum survey of Pousette-Dart’s photographic work, which is available for tour to two additional museum venues. The exhibition draws together approximately 45 vintage photographs printed by the artist between the 1930s and 1980s, including unique examples with hand-applied pigments. Absence/Presence is additionally supported by archival display materials and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

Absence/Presence demonstrates that Richard Pousette-Dart was a masterful, innovative photographer working in dialogue with avant-garde strains of the medium and the visual language of painting. Compelling images of fellow artists, musicians, filmmakers and writers reveal the rich intellectual milieu in which the artist flourished, his subjects often suspended within veils of timeless “presence” fashioned through multiple exposure and superimposition. Sumptuous photographic images of the natural world mirror the spiritual and transcendent properties of light, form and line at the heart of Pousette-Dart’s abstract painting. Presenting the extraordinary vision of one of the 20th century’s leading abstract artists as captured through the camera’s lens and further shaped by advanced darkroom approaches, Absence/Presenceilluminates Richard Pousette-Dart as a multifaceted Abstract Expressionist fascinated by the universal possibilities inherent at the nexus of hand and eye.

Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute is located at 310 Genesee Street, Utica, NY 13502.

Sponsored By Citizens Bank

Richard Pousette-Dart » Pace Gallery, Chelsea

November 7, 2014 through January 10, 2015

Opening Reception: Thursday, November 6, 2014, 6­–8 PM
Location: Pace Gallery, 510 West 25th Street, New York, NY

Pace Gallery is pleased to present its first exhibition of work by Richard Pousette-Dart. The exhibition will feature twelve paintings and ten works on paper examining the artist’s use of geometric imagery from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s. To accompany the exhibition, Pace will publish a catalogue featuring a new essay by critic Alex Bacon, quotations from the artist’s notebooks and excerpts of scholarly texts by Robert Hobbs, Sam Hunter, Carter Ratcliff, Barbara Rose, Philip Rylands, Martica Sawin, Lowery Stokes Sims and Robert Storr.

The exhibition focuses on this period of Pousette-Dart’s work and attests to his lifelong and unflinching belief in art as a vital force of life. He wrote of his art as “a quest for reality; not the obvious surface reality of outer forms but the related continuing realities of all the sights and sounds, sensations, dreams, memories…the intuitive visions that are part of the daily life of all of us.”

The exhibition explores Pousette-Dart’s use of geometric imagery, in particular the rectangle and the circle, which he believed to be universal symbols of cosmic forces. Pousette-Dart applied his paint in impasto points, creating thick layers over several applications. This technique rendered his forms with a “dynamic edge of creation” or “trembling edge of awareness.” “In Pousette-Dart’s mind the edge is more than the formal fact of the separation between forms within a painting,” wrote Lowery Stokes Sims. “It is a metaphor for the boundaries, the fragile point of balance, between opposites, which are mutable and in constant flux.”

The constellation of gestures in Pousette-Dart’s paintings—what he called presences—generated what he viewed as the works’ transcendental potential. “Art reveals the significant life, beauty of all forms—it uplifts, transforms it into the exalted realm of reality wherein its pure contemplative poetic being takes place—wherein art’s transcendental language of form, spirit, harmony means one universal eternal presence,” he wrote.

The exhibition will be on view at Pace Gallery, 510 West 25th Street, New York, NY from November 7, 2014 through January 10, 2015.

Making/Breaking Traditions: Teachers of Ai Weiwei » The Art Students League of New York

October 20, 2014 through November 9, 2014

When Ai Weiwei enrolled at The Art Students League from 1983-86, he encountered a multi-generational community of dedicated teachers and students, deeply rooted in the mid -twentieth century avant-garde. After moving to the United States in 1981, and studying briefly at Parsons School of Design, Weiwei began taking classes with League instructors Richard Pousette-Dart, Bruce Dorfman, and Knox Martin. Featuring Weiwei’s work alongside his instructors and their teachers Vaclav Vytlacil, Will Barnet, and Yasuo Kuniyoshi, this exhibition, Making/Breaking Traditions: Teachers of Ai Weiwei, explores the atmosphere at the League in the 1980s. Works in a variety of media trace creative lineages and raise questions about artistic tradition, self-expression, and creative freedom.

Richard Pousette-Dart first came to the Art Students League in the late 1930s, attending open sketching sessions as a path to refining his sculpture. From 1980 to 1986 he returned to The League as an instructor, a role that made an impression on the young Ai Weiwei, who found inspiration in the teaching of the established painter.

Works on view include The Dance V, 1937 and Summer of Great Ochre, 1989-90, both courtesy of the Richard Pousette-Dart Estate. Also on view are archival materials, including a statement from Ai Weiwei to Richard Pousette-Dart, ca. 1982, lent by The Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation.

Full Circle: Works on Paper by Richard Pousette-Dart » Philadelphia Museum of Art

September 13, 2014 through November 30, 2014

Full Circle surveys the long and extremely prolific career of one of the twentieth century’s most creative draftsmen, Richard Pousette-Dart (American, 1916-1992). Focused on his works on paper, the exhibition explores his remarkably varied use of materials and techniques, which often involved layering and scraping, scribbling and dripping, dotting and blotting. Over the course of nearly seventy years, his imagery evolved through various approaches in an attempt “to express the spiritual nature of the universe.”

In the 1940s and 1950s, Pousette-Dart was associated with Abstract Expressionists like Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Robert Motherwell, artists with whom he exhibited in New York galleries. During this period, he created densely layered, semiabstract images that incorporated pictographic, geometric, and organic shapes emerging among spontaneous markings and multiple layers of pigment. His methods included automatic drawing as well as layering and dripping paint, practices most associated with Pollock. He also painted small, glowing watercolors inspired by Byzantine mosaics and Gothic stained-glass windows. Forms from these early works–circles and concentric circles, rectangles and squares, ovals and eye shapes–endured throughout the artist’s entire body of work.

In the 1960s, Pousette-Dart eliminated line and used carefully modulated dots of color to produce glowing auras of light. From about 1976 to the end of his career, his works on paper reveal myriad new approaches to radiant imagery along with an incredible diversity of materials often employed in novel combinations. These include evocative pencil drawings touched with white paint, delicate hand-colored etchings, bold black-and-white paintings of geometric forms, and colorful acrylics on handmade paper. Full Circle, which presents about sixty of the finest examples of Pousette-Dart’s works on paper as well as six of his notebooks, demonstrates that no matter how varied and complex his approaches, the sources of his inspiration remained intensely focused throughout his entire career.

The exhibition is generously supported by The Robert Montgomery Scott Fund for Exhibitions. The accompanying publication is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Fund for Scholarly Publications at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Innis Howe Shoemaker, The Audrey and William H. Helfand Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Honickman and Berman Galleries, ground floor