Harvey Quaytman “Hone”

Van Doren Waxter

poster for Harvey Quaytman “Hone”
[Image: Harvey Quaytman “Hone" (1988) Acrylic and ground glass on canvas, 65 x 65 in.]

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Van Doren Waxter presents Harvey Quaytman: Hone, an exhibition of paintings from this crucial figure of late-era American abstraction. Harvey Quaytman: Hone marks the gallery’s first exhibition of Quaytman’s work since representation of the artist’s estate in 2016. A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany this exhibition with an essay by Steven Henry Madoff.

Harvey Quaytman came of age in the 70s and 80s when the art world was focused on Neo-Expressionism, Minimalism, Conceptualism and the Pictures Generation. Counter to these movements, Quaytman’s work developed in response to Abstract Expressionism in an attempt to develop a more personal approach to abstraction. Hone features nine paintings made between 1982 and 1990, a period in which the artist favored paintings with a palette of white, black, blues, yellows, vermillion, and rust which, at times, were incorporated with crushed glass. Predicating his use of color on the basis of attraction, Quaytman noted, “I have no specific meanings, but a color must mean something to me before I use it. I must love that color and it must strike me.”

Harvey Quaytman (1937-2002) is best known for his large scale, hard-edged modernist paintings. Originally steeped in the vernacular of 60s American abstraction reminiscent of Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning, Quaytman found his distinctive style of abstraction in the 70s by creating unconventionally shaped paintings dominated by one or two colors. Hone features work from the 80s when the artist began a new chapter working within a rectangular format distinguished by bold, assertive colors. A rich palette dominates his paintings of this period, often with a cruciform as the central compositional anchor, a form that he later isolated evoking painting as object.

One of the earliest works in the show is Untitled (1983), a rectangular painting characterized by a black window on a white ground. The window hovers toward the outer border of the picture with a curved edge at the lower corner—a line that replicated his pendulum shaped works from the mid-70s. Here, the curve is incorporated within the window, taking what was outside and bringing it in. From 1985–1988, Quaytman experimented with form and perspective as the window is covered by the cruciform.

The act of looking is paramount to understand Quaytman’s choices of composition, medium and color. Close inspection reveals the richness of surface and nuanced color which brings a sensuous quality to hard edge shapes. Though an admirer of artists such as Malevich and Mondrian, Quaytman was moved more by the spirit of optimism in Suprematist painting than its physical properties.

Hone is the first exhibition of Quaytman’s work since 2014 and the closing of the McKee Gallery, who had been the artist’s dealer for 41 years. A retrospective planned for 2018 at The Berkeley Museum and Pacific Film Archive will be organized by Apsara DiQuinzio, BAMPFA Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art and Phyllis C. Wattis, MATRIX Curator.



from February 22, 2017 to April 28, 2017

Opening Reception on 2017-02-22 from 18:00 to 20:00


Harvey Quaytman

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