Prints from the 1970s
September 14th, 2006 - October 21st, 2006
|Jack Youngerman: Prints from the 1970's
September 14 – October 21, 2006
Following last year's enormously successful show of Jack Youngerman's prints from the 1960s; the Susan Sheehan Gallery is pleased to announce that we will be hosting an exhibition of Jack Youngerman's silkscreens from the 1970s.
In 1956, when he returned to the United States from his adopted home of Paris, Youngerman settled in the downtown New York neighborhood of Coenties Slip. There his neighbors included Robert Indiana, Agnes Martin and his fellow expatriate from Paris—Ellsworth Kelly. Along with them, Youngerman began to create paintings with the scale of Abstract Expressionism but without that movement's bravura brushwork and emphasis on inner torment. His first one-person show, at Betty Parsons Gallery, opened in 1958 and he closed the decade by appearing alongside Jasper Johns, Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly in the Museum of Modern Art's influential exhibition Sixteen Americans. Solo museum exhibitions of his work were mounted at The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC and The Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, NY in the 1970s and by the Guggenheim Museum in 1982. His most recent museum show was at Guild Hall, East Hampton in 1990.
The 1970s saw Youngerman truly come into his own as a printmaker. While many of his strategies remained those of the previous decade, Youngerman became far more experimental and lavish in his use of colors and shapes. The Changes portfolio, published in 1970, is an explosion of colors and tones not previously seen before in Youngerman's graphic work. Gone is the reliance on one, or at most two, primary colors; instead, Youngerman explores quirky tertiary colors paired together in idiosyncratic combinations. In Yellow/Mauve for example, Youngerman joins two different mango yellows against a jewel-like magenta background. The resulting image is positively Matisse-like in its joyful exuberance. Youngerman's willingness to push the boundaries never comes off as forced or ill-conceived. Indeed, so sure-footed is Youngerman's feel for colors and forms that his choices seem inevitable; the viewer can't imagine altering anything without disrupting the delicate balance Youngerman has achieved.
A similar zest for experimentation characterizes Youngerman's approach to form as well. The artist himself has consistently maintained that his shapes are the product of his own imagination, and are without referent. Perhaps as a result, Youngerman's forms are as evocative as they are mysterious. With the Changes portfolio Youngerman began to introduce shapes that are even quirkier than those of the previous decade. In Red Orange/Lavender Youngerman offers a shape so strange that it seems to be unmoored from the natural world. And yet, as always, Youngerman pulls us in with subtle detail: note how the interior orange shape is split by the background tone as it slides down the form. This division widens at its terminus into a diamond shape, evocative of an arrow or spearhead. The orange shape as well, taken as a whole, seems to swell like smoke or pulse like a beating heart. Of course, as with all of Youngerman's forms; the mystery is the whole point. It is the viewer's imagination and experiences that complete the picture and give it meaning.
By the decade's end, Youngerman had also begun to play with the scale of his prints. With his Blue/Brown Suite from 1978, Youngerman produced prints that are well over four feet on a side, larger than anything he had previously attempted. In Blue/Brown Symmetry the sheer size of the print overwhelms with its evocation of a nocturnal landscape. This suite, with its odd pairing of twilight blues and chocolate browns strikes a surprisingly somber tone, and adds an almost elegiac note to Youngerman's normal suggestion of upbeat insouciance.
The Susan Sheehan Gallery is pleased to present this exhibition of rarely seen prints of Jack Youngerman's from the 1970s. Many of these images have never been exhibited before, and we are pleased that we can show this group of prints, which are as timeless today as they are evocative of the period. Our special thanks go to the Joan T Washburn gallery, without whom this show could not have been assembled. We would also like to extend our appreciation to the artist himself, who was never less than gracious and generous throughout the long period this show took to put together.
For further information, please contact Andrew Ehrenworth or visit our website at susansheehangallery.com.