Larry Becker Contemporary Art

JOHN ZINSSER - ABSTRACT MEMORY

JOHN ZINSSER - ABSTRACT MEMORY

installation shot by john zinsser

John Zinsser

Installation Shot

installation shot by john zinsser

John Zinsser

Installation Shot

installation shot by john zinsser

John Zinsser

Installation Shot

installation shot by john zinsser

John Zinsser

Installation Shot

installation shot by john zinsser

John Zinsser

Installation Shot

installation shot by john zinsser

John Zinsser

Installation Shot

Friday, January 7, 2011Saturday, February 26, 2011


Philadelphia, PA USA

JOHN ZINSSER
ABSTRACT MEMORY
New and Earlier Paintings and
New Auction Catalogue Drawings
January 7 through February 26th
OPEN until 7 PM "First Friday" Feb 4th

Get Me to the Church on Time
It was a simple enough assignment, drive the painter Marcia Hafif to her opening at Larry Becker Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. What I couldn’t have predicted was that a massive wreck on I-95 would shut down the highway completely. The trip became a seven-and-a-half hour odyssey, zig-zagging across strip mall New Jersey with no GPS, to arrive, finally, already late, to the opening.

The Trip
Hafif was unflappable, an intrepid traveler, centered and calm throughout. I was in a state of nervous agitation. I had been looking forward to catching up with this great monochrome painter, whom I had first met in 1988, when we both were doing shows at Julian Pretto’s tiny storefront gallery in SoHo.

Anxiety and Its Influence
The episode on I-95 describes, to some extent, my larger protracted history with a family of reductive artists a generation older than me, a case of “anxiety of influence,” in the words of literary critic Harold Bloom.

You Can Take a Guru to a Mountain,
But You Can’t Take the Mountain

There was a time in my life when I tried to think of Hafif as a possible guru figure. There was much to admire in her adherence to material-specific methodologies and the literal nature of color application and its receivership. She didn’t so much tell me what I was, as what I wasn’t: “a monochrome painter.” She liberated me by declaring me: “a duochrome painter.”

A More Thoreau Understanding
But there was more to it than that. In our verbal exchanges, I came to realize that Hafif wasn’t so much a practitioner of Zen (as many would no doubt falsely believe) as she was, ultimately, a “self-reliant” American pragmatist of the first order. If I came away with a lesson, it might be this: “If you do something, then it is appropriate to do.”

Monochrome and its Moment
Over the past 25 years, I have continued to study the American monochrome painting movement since the 1970s. Robert Ryman is the best-known among this group, but it also includes, notably, Marcia Hafif, Olivier Mosset, Phil Sims and Joseph Marioni. All emerged directly from core issues raised by “The New York School” of the 1940s and 1950s.

Collapsing History
For my generation, the three great movements of post-war painting – abstract expressionism, minimalism and pop — are not so much antithetical to each other (i.e., movement/counter-movement, assertion/repudiation) as they are part of a larger ongoing redefinition of the form of painting itself.

After Warhol
Yet this trajectory, the developing “DNA” of painting, was radically altered by Andy Warhol’s re-invention of its most basic structures. Not only are his works more “mechano-morphic” in their execution, they further heighten “objectivity” through the photographic repetition of imagery and the reduction of color to a single, planar presence. The affect is startling: all abstract painting is now “seen” differently as a result.

Drawing Legacies
Larry Becker and Heidi Nivling came to me a year ago, expressing interest in a series of drawings that I had just begun: representational renderings of abstract and reductive post-war American paintings. I was working from photographic reproductions from auction house catalogues — Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips — along with their accompanying texts.

A “Devotional” Practice
I came to informally refer to these drawings as “devotionals,” as I was working like a monk on an “illuminated manuscript” version of the originals. At first, the issue of the “cultural currency” of such images seemed important. In other words, a painting, in its original form, is so material, visceral and immediate. Yet in its entry into shared visual culture through reproduction, it becomes “iconic” in a much different fashion.

The Impossible Act
These follow the age-old tradition of artists drawing from respected originals to learn from them. Yet, in my case, they’re made from “respected” reproductions. In the act of drawing, they return to a primacy of act. The painting is re-transformed anew through direct material engagement.

A Room of One’s Own
Drawing an Ellsworth Kelly, Jasper Johns, Brice Marden, or even an Andy Warhol became a way of getting inside the form. There is a moment in the process when the work “becomes” my own: my hand, my eye.

Pre-Cognition and Viewer Response
When a viewer looks at these drawings, they bring their own pre-association. From having planned many art history lectures, I’ve come to call it “a mental slide carousel.” That is, one “projects” one’s own foreknowledge of the known icon “onto” the newly-drawn image, seeing it through the terms of one’s own subjective receivership.

You Knew It All Along
Of course, in doing this literal “devotional” act, I came to discover that I was only reinforcing and repeating what I had been doing all along for the last 20 years. My paintings are largely a “response” to that which I have already visually “internalized.” Between material and action, what emerges, seemingly on its own, is a fully developed “iconography” of that which we already know.

Beginning Again
And so the DNA cycle regenerates itself, through mutation and adaptation, all over again.

—John Zinsser, New York, January, 2011

Exhibition Checklist

JOHN ZINSSER
ABSTRACT MEMORY

New and Earlier Paintings and New Auction Catalogue Drawings
January – February 2011





Front room, counterclockwise from right, at window



1. Frank Stella, Island No. 10 (Small Version, Purple), 1961 | Sotheby's, New York | Contemporary Art | Thursday, October 3, 1991 | Lot 93, 2009 Graphite and colored pencil on paper;11½” x 9”

2. Jasper Johns, 0 THROUGH 9, (Field 4) Sotheby’s Contemporary Prints New York, May 13, 1989 Lot 1052, 2010 Graphite on paper; 11½” x 9”

3. Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled, 1977 Christie’s Contemporary Art, (Part II) New York, Wednesday, May
4, 1994 Lot 143
, 2010 Graphite on paper; 11½” x 9”

4. Brice Marden, Moon 1, 1977 Sotheby’s Contemporary Art, Part I Lot 59 Tuesday, November 6, 1990, 2010 Graphite and colored pencil on paper; 11½” x 9”

5. Andy Warhol, CAMPBELL’S SOUP I (F. & S. 44-53) Sotheby’s Contemporary Prints New York, Saturday, May 13, 1989 Lot 1273, 2010 Graphite on paper; 11½” x 9”

6. Jasper Johns, THE DUTCH WIVES (S. 10) Sotheby’s Contemporary Prints New York, Saturday, May 13, 1989 Lot 1105, 2010 Graphite and colored pencil on paper; 11½” x 9”

7. Dream Systems, 2008 (black/black/cadmium red), oil and enamel on canvas, 60” x 56”

8. Toward Attention, 2010 (rust primer/mixed gray), enamel and oil on canvas, 30” x 30”

9. [A] Glimmer Coming, 2010 (black/provence violet), oil and enamel on canvas, 48” x 48”

10. Memory Trace, 2010 (silver/mixed cobalt violet gray), enamel and oil on canvas, 40” x 36”

11. After Light, 2009 (warm gray/cobalt blue), oil on canvas, 48” x 48”

12. Motion to Regress, 2006 [black/red], alkyd enamel and oil on canvas, 21” x 16”

13. Material Reality, 2007 (yellow/titanium white), enamel and oil on canvas, 48” x 48”

14. Sky Calling, 2008 [silver/white], alkyd enamel and oil on canvas, 24” x 20”



Second room, counterclockwise from right, at entry



15. Richard Pettibone (b. 1938), Frank The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, 1959, 1976 Christie’s Post-War Contemporary Art New York, Thursday 11 November 2004 Lot 308, 2010 Graphite on paper: 11½” x 9”

16. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1986 Christie’s Post-War Contemporary Art New York, Thursday 11 November 2004 Lot 430, 2010 Graphite on paper; 11½” x 9”

17. Jasper Johns, NUMBERS (F. 61), 1967 Sotheby’s Contemporary Prints New York, Saturday, May 13,1989 Lot 1061 (Version One) , 2010 Graphite on paper; 11½” x 9”

18. Jasper Johns, NUMBERS (F. 61), 1967 Sotheby’s Contemporary Prints New York, Saturday, May 13, 1989 Lot 1061 (Version Two) , 2010 Graphite and China marker on paper; 11½” x 9”

19. Peter Halley, Rectangular Prison with Smokestack, 1987 | Sotheby's, New York | Contemporary Art, Part II | November 9 and 10, 1989 | Lot 458, 2009 Colored pencil and graphite on paper; 11½” x 9”

20. Robert Mangold, Red Wall, 1965 | Christie's, New York | Contemporary Art (Part II) | Thursday, May 8, 1997 | Lot 259, 2009 Colored pencil and graphite on paper; 11½” x 9”

21. Hiroshi Sugimoto (b. 1948), Lake Superior, Cascade River Christie’s Post-War Contemporary Art New York, Thursday 11 November 2004 Lot 404, 2010 Graphite and colored pencil on paper; 11½” x 9”

22. Ellsworth Kelly, CITY ISLAND, 1958 Sotheby’s Contemporary Art, Part I New York, Tuesday, November 6,1990 Lot 18, 2010 Graphite and China marker on paper; 11½” x 9”

23. Geometry and Ego, 2007 [silver/orange], alkyd enamel and oil on canvas, 30” x 28”

24. Specimen Cabinet, 2007 (silver/mixed cobalt violet), enamel and oil on canvas, 60” x 72”

25. Actual Occasion, 2010 (light blue/silver mix), oil on canvas, 36” x 36”



Continued around corner of wall after closet door



26. Sarah Morris | Guilty, 1995 | Christie’s, New York | Contemporary Art | November 17, 2009 | Lot 409, 2009 Colored pencil and graphite on paper; 11½” x 9”

27. Robert Ryman, Divan, 1971 Sotheby’s Contemporary Art, Part I New York, Tuesday, April 30, 1991 Lot 35, 2010 Graphite on paper; 11½” x 9” (on two sheets of paper, in two separate frames)

28. Brice Marden, Blunder, 1969 Sotheby’s Contemporary Art, Part I New York, Tuesday, April 30, 1991 Lot 39, 2010 Graphite and colored pencil on paper; 11½” x 9” (on two sheets of paper, two separate frames)

29. Tom Friedman | Fly, 1995 | Christie’s, New York | Friday, November 17, 2000 | Lot 415 (Catalogue Cover) [version two], 2009 Colored pencil and graphite on paper; 11½” x 9”

30. Robert Indiana | Love x4 | Christie’s, New York | Contemporary Art (Part II) | Wednesday, November 15, 1995 | Lot 206, 2009 Colored pencil and graphite on paper; 11½” x 9”

31. Frank Stella | Palmito Ranch (Small Version, Orange), 1961 | Sotheby’s, New York | Contemporary Art | Thursday, October 3, 1991 | Lot 102, 2009 Colored pencil and graphite on paper; 11½” x 9”

32. Barbara Kruger | Untitled (Questions), 1989 | Christie’s, New York | Contemporary | Lot 479, 2009 Colored pencil and graphite on paper; 11½” x 9”

33. Brice Marden, Paris Green II, 1973 | Sotheby’s, New York | Contemporary Art | May 5 and 6, 1986 | Lot 41, 2009 Colored pencil on paper; 11½” x 9”

34. Al Held | B/W XV, 1968 | Sotheby’s, New York | Contemporary Art | Thursday, October 3, 1991 | Lot 42, 2009 Colored pencil and graphite on paper; 11½” x 9”

35. Christopher Wool b. 1955, UNTITLED, 1990 Sotheby’s Contemporary Art, Part I New York, Tuesday, November 6, 1990 Lot 129, 2010 Graphite and China marker on paper; 11½” x 9”

36. Form and Sensation, 2007 [silver/yellow], alkyd enamel and oil on canvas, 30” x 28”

37. Traveling Companions, 2008 (silver/cadmium orange), enamel and oil on canvas, 60” x 72”