YARES ART is pleased to present Larry Poons: Ruffles Queequeg + The Throw Decade Paintings: 1971–1981, on view in New York, September 15– October 27, 2018. The show’s unusual title refers to a character in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, as well as to a pivotal painting in the oeuvre of one of America’s most important and influential artists, Larry Poons. A highlight of the exhibition, Ruffles Queequeg (1972) heralded Poons’s reemergence on the international art scene in the early 1970s as one of the most dynamic and significant leaders of the Color Field movement. While still in his twenties, Poons achieved considerable success and renown in the 1960s for abstract compositions, in the then-new medium of acrylic paint, featuring hard-edge colorful dots and lozenge shapes that pulsate against backgrounds of contrasting hues. One of the most inventive—and restless—artists of his generation, Poons heroically fought against the demands of art-world expectations and moved his art forward to explore novel techniques, processes, and materials. With the “throw” paintings, which preoccupied him throughout the 1970s, he arrived at a lush and sensuous realm of painterly expression that had never been seen before.
The artist’s second solo exhibition at Yares Art, New York, includes large-scale canvases, such as Johnson (1973), No More Greasy Boots Allowed in Here (1975), Rain of Terror, and Lycoming (both 1977), all masterful examples of the period. These works confront the viewer with innumerable cascades of pigment in countless hues. In his initial violent act of painting—throwing buckets of paint toward the top of the canvas and allowing the drips to flow down at will—the artist enlists as his accomplices in these works the laws of chance as well as gravity. With an insistent verticality, the compositions create hypnotic, and often meditative, optical effects that are not dissimilar from those found in Poons’s earlier dots and lozenge compositions.
Ever changing and evolving, Poons, in subsequent decades, continued to experiment with new approaches and processes. The exhibition also includes a selection of his most recent works, such as Pictures in the Closet and Duco Walk (both 2018), painted with brushes and fingers. These luminous canvases prove that still at eighty years old, Poons continues to refine his extraordinary vision and redefine the possibilities of painting. As ever, his works challenge and impress audiences with their inimitable play of color, light, and movement.
Born in Tokyo in 1937 to Anglo-American parents, Poons relocated with his family to the United States at a young age, and studied music composition at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Recognizing his greater talent for visual art, he transferred to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he studied painting. His career skyrocketed soon after he moved to New York in the early 1960s.
Larry Poons’s work is included in many prominent public and private art collections throughout the world, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Georges Pompidou Center, Paris; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; the Tate Modern, London; the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands; the Whitney Museum of American Art, NewYork; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, among other institutions.
Larry Poons: Ruffles Queequeg + The Throw Decade Paintings: 1971–1981, is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an introduction by Michael Fried and essays by Alex Bacon and Frank Stella.