Gray is pleased to participate in the 2021 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, presenting works from across the gallery's Modern and contemporary programs in Booth B2.
Featured artists include Harry Bertoia, McArthur Binion, Ed Clark, Jim Dine, Jean Dubuffet, Torkwase Dyson, Max Ernst, Theaster Gates, Adolph Gottlieb, David Hockney, Rashid Johnson, Alex Katz, Robert Motherwell, Jaume Plensa, Susan Rothenberg, Richard Serra, Leon Polk Smith, and Evelyn Statsinger.
It struck me that if I paint a person—no matter how I do it—it is a lie. The truth is in the physical brushstroke and the subject of the painting is the paint itself.
-Ed Clark (i)
Ed Clark’s The Dome work exemplifies the harmonious, painterly compositions for which the artist is best known, with a gestural oval stretched across the thick cream, beige, and blue bands of color stacked in a tripartite configuration.
A little over a decade after creating his—and what is considered by many to be the—first shaped canvas, the artist made his first oval painting: The Big Egg, 1968, which is located in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.
Clark would revisit this oval motif in shaped and rectangular canvases for the remainder of his career. In a 1997 interview with Quincy Troupe—acclaimed poet, biographer of Miles Davis, and to whom the present work was dedicated—Clark remarked: "We do not see rectangles. Our eyes are oval shaped. Why do we do rectangles?" The artist continued, "I was making ovals, and then I got the idea of creating the illusion of volume. I was using big brushes, so why not tape the canvas. Now we're talking about rectangular canvases. The oval would be made and I'd tape over it, block it out and then paint over it. Just before the paint dried, I'd pull the tape off. You get a kind of etched look."(ii)
“I had a long romance, and still do, with house paint…. The house paint had power for me, and the color charts of house paints had power for me. Because the colors were without compromise and without subtlety. American colors were not so much about decoration.”
-Jim Dine (iii)
Jim Dine’s painting A Universal Color Chart, 1961 was created by the artist in a formative period following his pioneering contributions to the experimental Happenings performances in New York. In this moment around 1960, Dine’s recognition as a painter swiftly developed, making him a key figure in the Pop Art scene and well known for his recognizable motifs such as hardware, tools, robes, and hearts.
Dine specifically began using the implements of a painter—the palette and the color chart—in 1960 as a means of registering introspective interrogation through the objects and images around his studio. As curator and art historian Germano Celant writes in the Guggenheim’s exhibition catalogue Jim Dine: Walking Memory, “The first [color chart] work, A 1935 Palette, 1960... is a declaration of self-legitimation as an artist, which he conveys by equating the value of the palette with that of his own twenty-five-year existence.”(iv)
The physical space suggested by the hues of green beyond the color chart in the painting would continue to be a primary concern for Dine, and which he would expand upon in Long Island Landscape, 1963, as well as in his works exhibited in the landmark 1964 Venice Biennale. Held in the collection of the Whitney Museum, Long Island Landscape presents a lawn and washy sky punctuated by hardware painted with a rainbow spectrum of color. A Universal Color Chart stands as a pivotal painting within Dine’s oeuvre, one in which he decisively developed his treatment of the picture plane like a two-way mirror—with recognizable objects reflected outward in dialogue with an illusory space beyond.
Read further about Dine's practice on his artist page.
Working across the disciplines of painting, drawing, installation and sculpture, Torkwase Dyson distills the spatial and affective residues of diasporic histories to envision new modes of environmental liberation. Through a process of intensive research into the built and natural environments, Dyson’s practice explores the ways in which people—and especially Black and brown people—navigate, negotiate, and negate normative systems of power.
Across her practice, Dyson deploys a distinct visual lexicon of geometric shapes and lines, including the trapezoid, rectangle and curve, all of which are figured into the shaped panels that constitute the Of Line and Memory. Expansive by design, but specific in nature, Dyson’s layering of these forms produces rich compositions that engage what the artist names “Black spatial genius.” In Of Line and Memory, Drawing Test 01, Dyson uses two irregularly shaped trapezoidal wood panels that nearly touch. While each panel maintains a marked separation, the silver-hued curved lines and rectangular formations that dash across both canvases convey the promise of eventual intersection. The present composition is the first in the artist’s new series which examines the entrenched histories of Chicago’s waterways.
Read further about Dyson's practice on her artist page and take a look inside the artist's studio.
Can a hardware store be considered a work of significance as a hardware store or only after transformation, reformation, dislocation or intervention?
Are all works of art not merely a series of joined objects made from things that you find at a corner store?
-Theaster Gates (v)
The work of Theaster Gates is deeply engaged in material and cultural preservation, especially as it relates to historical and contemporary power dynamics. Circle was created for the artist's 2021 exhibition How to Sell Hardware, an immersive installation re-envisioning a family-owned True Value hardware store formerly located on Chicago's South Side. Once a lively central space for local commerce, the True Value store shared in the growth and prosperity of a thriving community during the 1970s and '80s, filling its everyday practical and social needs.
The hardware store similarly mirrored the neighborhood's downturns as business slowed in the 1990s with the emergence of big-box stores which drastically changed the needs and habits of the once-prosperous Chicago neighborhood. Gates acquired the store and all of its merchandise in 2014 and has continued to activate the Halsted True Value Hardware archive ever since, including the debut of the hardware store archive as material and conceptual medium in Gates's 2016 True Value exhibition at the Fondazione Prada in Milan.
In Circle, Gates hangs on a metal pegboard wall one of a suite of paintings created from repositioned hardware. Evoking the color and shaped canvases of Hard-Edge abstractionists like Ellsworth Kelly and Leon Polk Smith, these paintings eschew the familiar taxonomy of hardware items hanging by scale and use in a store. Yet even in their new arrangements, the paintings maintain a topographical feel of depth, insisting on their physical dimensions and presence as much as their art historical lineage. In these shaped hardware canvases, the material substrate vibrates with as much intensity as the formal image.
Gates beckons viewers to look both at and beyond the hardware objects, asking broader questions of the notion of artistic creation and labor. As Gates describes it, "This exhibition examines my instigation and insistence that the world is not separated between high objects and low objects, but rather, that the artist has the capacity to determine the designation of each. Can a hardware store be considered a work of significance as a hardware store or only after transformation, reformation, dislocation or intervention? Are all works of art not merely a series of joined objects made from things that you find at a corner store?"(vi)
Read further about Gates's practice on his artist page.
i. Ed Clark, as quoted in James Rondeau, "James Rondeau on Edward Clark," in Four Generations: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection of Abstract Art (New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2016), 52-53.
iii. Jim Dine, quoted in Jim Dine: Walking Memory, 1959-1969 (New York: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1999), 114.
iv. Germano Celant, ”‘I Love What I’m Doing’: Jim Dine, 1959-1969,” in Jim Dine: Walking Memory, 21.
v. Theaster Gates's artist statement for Theaster Gates: How to Sell Hardware (May 2021).