Stephen Posen Cut out, 1968

Stephen Posen Threads: Paintings from the 1960s and ’70s

Vito Schnabel Gallery in New York presents a two-part exhibition in the U.S. and Europe, devoted to the radical early canvases of New York-based artist Stephen Posen (b. 1939). Opening in New York on May 1, 2018, Threads: Paintings from the 1960s and ‘70s features a selection of the artist’s works which have never been publicly shown. The exhibition is the first significant presentation to revisit Posen’s breakthrough shaped canvases and related paintings since his debut at New York’s SoHo gallery OK Harris, nearly five decades ago.

Threads: Paintings from the 1960s and ‘70s will remain on view through June 23 at Vito Schnabel Projects, 43 Clarkson Street, New York. On July 28, the second part of the exhibition will open at Vito Schnabel Gallery, St. Moritz, Switzerland, and continue through September 2, 2018. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

In the late 1960s, as prevailing abstraction began to give way to a proliferation of defiant and eschewing ‘isms,’ Stephen Posen emerged on the downtown scene of Manhattan as an inaugural and prominent figure of a new American Realism. He had recently returned from a two-year Fulbright fellowship sojourn in Italy, where he immersed himself in the art and architecture of centuries past. Liberated and charged by the influence of Renaissance and Baroque masters, and struggling to address age-old questions that still challenged the frontier of 20th century painting, Posen crystallized a vision and style that were astonishingly modern and fresh. His work explored a painterly paradox in which pictorial illusion and spatial perception grapple. His uncanny cut-outs from this period acknowledge a sculptural impetus, imitating draped fabric and hanging clothes with an exacting verisimilitude that probes at aesthetic and intellectual curiosities about form, representation, flatness, and depth. These investigations course through Posen’s art to this day.

Lyrical, bold, and energized with compositional tensions, Posen’s work of the late 1960s and early ‘70s embraced a dialogue of opposing impulses that simultaneously merged and rejected notions of Classicism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop, Minimalism, and even Photorealism. In 1972, The New York Times’ art critic John Canaday expressed delight at such burgeoning evidence of a new figurative movement in his review of the Whitney Museum’s Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting: Posen’s illusional painting is a “tour de force that revives the quality of magic that, painting held in its recreation of three‐dimensional still life on a two dimensional surface before the invention of photography.”

Stephen Posen was born in 1939 in St. Louis, Missouri. He received his B.F.A. from Washington University in 1962 and his M.F.A. from Yale University in 1964 and currently works in both his New York and Bucks County, PA studios.

Vito Schnabel Projects | 43 Clarkson Street, New York
May 2 – June 23, 2018

Vito Schnabel Gallery | Via Maistra 37, St. Moritz
July 28 – September 2, 2018

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Stephen Posen Cut out, 1968
Stephen Posen
Cut out, 1968