Richard Morrison and Bill Rice Exhibition

steven harvey fine art projects

poster for Richard Morrison and Bill Rice Exhibition

This event has ended.

And in the rear gallery, works by
Peter Hujar, Zoe Leonard and, David Wojnarowicz

SHFAP presents a two person exhibition of Richard Morrison(1948-2015) and Bill Rice (1932-2006). The two artists were close friends and collaborators for twenty-five years. This show includes major works from their estates and private collections. It will also feature a video compendium of Bill Rice’s performances in underground film and theater compiled by Jacob Burckhardt as well as Morrison’s short film Bust, featuring David Wojnarowicz which was included in the recent survey of photographs and films of Wojnarowicz at the KZ Museum in Berlin. In the rear gallery there will be a selection of works by their peers and friends including Peter Hujar, David Wojnarowicz, and Zoe Leonard.

Richard Morrison (1948-2015.) worked in a variety of media including drawing, painting, photography, artist books, installation and performance. This exhibition will include printed photographic work and work on paper. Morrison was part of a group of often gay, East Village artists in the 70s and 80s, who wored in between theater, film and visual art. His friends and collaborators included Bill Rice, John Lurie, Peter Hujar, David Wojnarowicz, Barbara Ess, Jeff Weiss, Zoe Leonard and Jack Smith. His life partner was writer, publisher and sociology professor Larry Mitchell, author of Terminal Bar, a roman a clef about “The Bar” on 4th street and Second Avenue that served as a watering hole for their scene.

Morrison was born and grew up in Detroit. He attended Wayne State University where he studied art education. After moving to Boston he worked at the Fernald State School for the Developmentally Disabled. This was the beginning of a life-long, part-time career in social services. He moved to NYC from Boston in 1976 and within his first year was performing with Robert Wilson in Einstein on the Beach at the Metropolitan Opera, which then toured in Europe. Morrsion was the silent Einstein writing calculations in the air.

In the late 70s, he made an installation/performance piece at the New York Studio School called “2.” With dark rooms, jarring lighting, aggressive film/sound elements and naked performers, Die evoked a foreboding, dystopian urban reality that he also probed in his photographic and printed work. He captured mysterious images from television of political prisoners, and street confrontations. Without attempting to create a branded identity or art career, Morrison dissected the control mechanisms of the early 80s urban state, with a special awareness of race and sex relations. He was a fellow traveler of the Pictures Generation artists, who were his peers, yet he embraced a near anonymity, which radically diverged from the careers of future art stars. He showed his work in Bill Rice’s studio, and at Gallery 303, when they were in the East Village. In 1984 he curated, with Bill Rice and Steven Harvey, a sprawling group show called Salon/Saloon in Bill Rice’s decrepit East Village studio, across from the Men’s Shelter on 3rd St. In 1991, he made a black room installation in collaboration with David Wonarowicz for Social Sculpture, an exhibition at the Vrej Baghoomian Gallery.

In a catalog to accompany his 2018 solo exhibition at SHFAP, Gary Indiana wrote about Morrsion: “His pictures catch a reality continually slipping away, erupting in chaos, fracturing into incoherence; the most disturbing thing about Richard Morrison’s work is often that the artist seems as much a hapless spectator of the world he pictures as the viewer is—sometimes a dire, intolerable realm, where figures drizzle into the surrounding landscape or blur beyond recognition.”

Bill Rice (1932-2006), was a familiar figure in the Lower East Side cultural underground. He was a film and theater actor, and a scholar, as well as a visual artist. In theater and film he worked with Jim Jarmusch, Robert Frank, Gary Goldberg, Jeff Weiss, and Jim Neu. In collaboration with writer Gary Indiana he formed a garden theater in the backyard of his studio at 13 east 3rd Street on the Men’s Shelter block. He worked with the Gertrude Stein scholar, Ulla Dydo, on books about Stein, and also did extensive, unpublished research on Picasso’s Demoiselles D’Avignon.

Rice studied painting at Middlebury College in Vermont in the late 1940s and came to New York City in 1953. He began as an abstract painter, but his subject became the nocturnal street life of the Lower East Side. His gritty scenes of street encounters and tenement architecture are simultaneously edgy and explicit, yet retain an inherentl romantic vision. Rice was a singular painter in both subject and style – not allied with any particular generation or school. Holland Cotter in The New York Time wrote that “the pictures with their thin washes of oil paint, are at once rigorously geometric in structure and smokily gestural as abstract Phillip Gustons.” Rice wrote of his paintings, “Ideally I would like to invest the rectangle – the basic unit in any city scape – with the sensuality, color, texture, I find in the streets. I like to record the young, elegant, black, Asian and Hispanic men who know how to move and glow in what would otherwise be a dreary landscape.”

Rice’s paintings were exhibited in 1984 at The Patrick Fox Gallery and in 1987 at 56 Bleecker Gallery. His paintings were presented by Richard Milazzo in a show at Sidney Janis Gallery in 1996. The last exhibition before his death was at Mitchel Algus Gallery in 2005. Organized with Richard Morrison, SHFAP presented a memorial show of Rice in 2011 at the Schlesinger Gallery on the Upper East Side. For that exhibition Holland Cotter wrote in The NY Times, that Rice “… depicted the city as a geometric pattern of dark walls and bright windows framing individual figures, often nude dark-skinned men.”
This exhibition of Morrison and Rice together eulogizes a relationship in art and friendship. Both men were magnetic personalities who ended up in an intimate aesthetic conversation that speaks to us about the qualities of their art and character as much as it reflects the urban realities and zeitgeist of their moment.



from June 19, 2019 to July 20, 2019
Hours: Tues - Sat 12 - 6pm.

  • Facebook


    All content on this site is © their respective owner(s).
    New York Art Beat (2008) - About - Contact - Privacy - Terms of Use