Yares Art is pleased to present Larry Poons: The Outerlands, a selection of over fifty paintings and works on paper showcasing the past four decades of the artist’s oeuvre. Consistent through these years is Poons’s emphasis on the physical and tactile characteristics of painting—qualities that he has explored using a variety of unconventional materials and methods. The surface textures that enrich his work have organically developed as the artist has found new ways to amplify its topography.
In the early 1980s, while creating the “Throw” paintings, Poons began to build up the surfaces of his canvases by means of an underlying network of foam pieces and other mixed-media elements. In paintings, such as Untitled (81G) (1981) and Untitled (1982), bits of foam are encrusted beneath cascades of color. Resonances with natural processes can be felt throughout the artist’s work of this period. Flows of paint surge down Untitled (84B-5) (1984), accumulating into a dense, infinitely detailed, mineral-like surface. Continuing in this direction, Poons developed an innovative synthesis of painting, sculptural relief, and drawing in his work of the 1990s. In the collage-like paintings Chat Noir (1994) and Curves to Go (1995), Poons re-introduced linear three-dimensional shapes and forms that allowed him to draw with texture, in tandem with the orchestrations of light and shadow generated by these raised materials. Recognizable motifs occasionally emerge in these works, like the patterns of musical staves and notes in Peritheria (1993), reflecting the artist’s conservatory training and lifelong interest in music. Poons returned to painting with a brush in the early 2000s, creating boldly colored canvases of fluttering brushstrokes and flickering color as exemplified in Untitled (04A-3) (2004) and Lamplighter (2009).
The Outerlands (2022)—the centerpiece of this exhibition— is a monumental painting spanning over forty feet in length. Immersive and environmental, is the apotheosis of Poons’s art, bringing together in one major statement the pictorial and thematic strands that run through his work of the past several decades: dramatic color, virtuosic paint handling, while evoking sensations of the natural landscape.
Larry Poons was born in Tokyo in 1937 to American parents. Raised in New York City, he studied at the New England Conservatory in Boston between 1955-57. He turned to painting in 1959 after seeing Barnett Newman’s exhibition at French & Company that year and transferred to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It was not long before Poons made his way to New York and continued his studies at the Art Students League.
With their boldly contrasting color and energized optical effects, his “Dot” & “Lozenge” paintings of the early 1960s immediately established him as a major abstract artist. These paintings were featured in his first solo exhibition, at New York’s Green Gallery in 1964. He was subsequently included in seminal exhibitions of contemporary art throughout the decade including The Responsive Eye (1965) and The Art of the Real (1968) at the Museum of Modern Art. In 1969, he was the youngest artist included in Henry Geldzahler’s expansive New York Painting and Sculpture, 1940–1970 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His painterly works of the 1970s were the subject of a solo exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1981. In addition to his artistic endeavors, Poons is a musician and an accomplished vintage motorcycle racer. He was featured in the 2018 documentary The Price of Everything directed by Nathaniel Kahn.
Poons has exhibited with prominent galleries internationally, and his work is included in major museums around 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, and the the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Georges Pompidou Center, Paris; the Tate Modern, London; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, among many others.
Coinciding with the exhibition opening is the publication of "Larry Poons", the seminal monograph of the artist’s career by Abbeville Press.