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Richard Warren Pousette-Dart (June 8, 1916 – October 25, 1992) was an American artist most recognized as a founder of the New York School of painting. His artistic output also includes drawing, sculpture, and fine-art photography. Richard Pousette-Dart was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota and moved to Valhalla, New York in 1918. His mother, Flora Pousette-Dart, was a poet and musician; his father, Nathaniel J. Pousette-Dart, was a painter, art director, educator and writer about art. Pousette-Dart began painting and drawing by the age of eight, and in 1928 was featured in a New York Times photograph showing Richard and his father sketching each other’s portraits. He attended the Scarborough School and by his teens possessed well-formed views about abstract art, writing in a psychology paper, “The greater the work of art, the more abstract and impersonal it is; the more it embodies universal experience, and the fewer specific personality traits it reveals.” [1] He attended Bard College in 1936, leaving after one semester to pursue an independent track as an artist in New York City. Pousette-Dart’s first professional positions were as an assistant to sculptor Paul Manship and secretary in the photographic retouching studio of Lynn T. Morgan.







Pousette-Dart initially concentrated on stone carving, expanding his work to include cast bronze and brass. He held in high regard the work of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, who embraced tribal art and its ability to convey power and mystery through three-dimensional form. During the 1930s, Pousette-Dart frequented the American Museum of Natural History and became deeply interested in the formal and spiritual aspects of African, Oceanic and Native American art, especially carvings produced by Northwest Indian cultures. Many of his paintings and sculptures from the 1930s, such as Woman Bird Group (Smithsonian American Art Museum), embrace these totemic and symbolic forms.

In 1938, Pousette-Dart began a friendship with Russian émigré John D. Graham, whose writings offered a framework for engaging the ideas of European cubists and surrealists then being exhibited in New York City. Graham also encouraged interest in so-called “primitive” archetypal forms, and Pousette-Dart produced canvases with complex, interlocking biomorphic and geometric imagery, as well as hundreds of stylized, abstracted drawings of figures, heads, and animals.

Pousette-Dart’s first one-man exhibition of painting took place at the Artists’ Gallery in New York in the fall of 1941, a year after he completed the painting Desert (collection of The Museum of Modern Art[1]. In 1942, he completed Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental, a painting of heroic scale too large to show at the Marian Willard Gallery, where it was to be exhibited. This work was the first mural-sized easel painting by the New York School artists, influencing works such as Mural by Jackson Pollock (1943) and The Liver is the Cock’s Comb by Arshile Gorky (1944). [2] During the mid-1940s, Pousette-Dart exhibited at Howard Putzel’s 67 Gallery, Peggy Guggenheim‘s Art of This Century and, in 1948, joined the Betty Parsons Gallery, which exhibited the work of Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt and other painters who came to shape the formative cannon of the New York School.

During the 1940s, Pousette-Dart’s studio was located at 436 East 56th Street in Manhattan, near the Queensboro Bridge. His East River Paintings, created in this studio during the late 1940s, embrace the amplification of line, often realized by direct application of paint from the tube onto mixed-medium grounds that include sand, poured paint, and gold and silver leaf. In 1951, Pousette-Dart relocated to a farmhouse in Sloatsburg, New York, and eventually to nearby Suffern, where he maintained a studio for the remainder of his life.

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Pousette-Dart experimented widely with varying types of media and approaches, alternating broadly between densely filled canvases and more simplified surfaces and forms. Richly layered works known as Gothic and Byzantine paintings, for instance, use heavy, layered impasto and resplendent, prismatic color to invoke manuscript illuminations, mosaics and stained glass windows. White Paintings, in contrast, are ethereal compositions of graphite line on variegated white grounds.

Beginning in the late 1950s, Pousette-Dart experimented with building form through small, individual dabs of color, creating paintings and works on paper that exhibit all-over, field-like compositions. By the 1960s, he concentrated on large-scale works composed of thick layers of such gestural marks, evoking pulsating, glowing allusions to space. Paintings known as Hieroglyphs, Presences and Radiances display dense fields and calligraphic structures that emerge and recede visually. Works of the 1970s and 1980s often exhibit large shapes—orbs and geometric forms— that serve as mandala-like focal points. While Pousette-Dart embraced a wide range of intense color within paintings and works on paper from the 1960s through the 1990s, he equally explored themes in black and white.

Richard Pousette-Dart exhibited with the Betty Parsons Gallery until its close in 1983, and as such, his work was introduced to a younger generation of artists showing at the gallery, including Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, Richard Tuttle, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jack Youngerman. In 1963, The Whitney Museum of American Art staged Pousette-Dart’s first retrospective, with additional Whitney exhibitions in 1974 and 1998. During the 1970s Pousette-Dart worked in Europe, including Antibes, France, where he concentrated on watercolor. In 1990 Pousette-Dart’s most complete retrospective was held at theIndianapolis Museum of Art, for which he created a 10 x 10 foot bronze door Cathedral which remains on permanent view.

Text source: Wikipedia





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