Sven Lukin: Paintings 1960-1971, Gary Snyder Gallery, New York, NY

Sven Lukin, Tucson, 1966
Acrylic on canvas and wood construction
54 1/2 x 32 x 17

November 11, 2010 – January 29, 2011

Gary Snyder Project Space is pleased to announce Sven Lukin: Paintings, 1960–1971, an exhibition of paintings and drawings at 250 West 26th Street. Opening on November 11, 2010, the exhibition is the first, most comprehensive presentation of Lukin’s work in almost forty years. Eleven of the artist’s famed “three-dimensional paintings” will be on view, as well as a selection of preparatory drawings, many of which were featured in Lawrence Alloway’s landmark exhibition The Shaped Canvas (1965, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum). A 104 page monograph — Lukin’s first — will accompany the exhibition, with contributions from Lawrence Alloway, Elizabeth C. Baker, Jeanne Siegel, and Frances Colpitt.

The exhibition and its accompanying publication offer a retrospective view of the artist’s work during the 1960s — from the dissolving geometries of early paintings such as Malleus Maleficarum (1960) to the artist’s groundbreaking experiments in “shaped canvas.” Works in the exhibition such as Lemon Peel (1962), San Diego (1966), and Pink Buttress (1969), illustrate Lukin’s progressive movement out from two-dimensional space and into the realm of architecture. Unlike his peers Richard Smith, Frank Stella, and Neil Williams, Lukin was not satisfied with merely changing the shape of his stretchers. He wanted his paintings to exist in real space, to attack and confront it.

Born in Riga, Latvia in 1934, Sven Lukin immigrated to the United States in 1949. After graduating high school in 1953, Lukin was accepted into The University of Pennsylvania, School of Architecture. While enrolled, he attended lectures by the influential architect and urban designer Louis I. Kahn. Although Lukin left the program in 1956, Kahn’s ideas had a profound impact on the young artist. Kahn’s celebration of monumental scale, unadorned surfaces, and volumetric forms was a source of endless fascination for Lukin—one that continues to this day.

In 1958, Lukin moved to New York to pursue his career as a painter. During the 1960s, he had solo-exhibitions at many of New York’s most influential and prestigious galleries, including: Betty Parsons Gallery (1961), Martha Jackson Gallery (1962), and The Pace Gallery (1963, 1964, 1966, and 1968). During this period, his work also figured prominently in many landmark museum exhibitions, such as The Quest and the Quarry (1961, Rome-New York Art Foundation, Inc.), Vormen van de Kleur (1964, Stedelijk Museum), Color, Image, and Form (1967, The Detroit Institute of Arts), Painting: Out from the Wall (1968, Des Moines Art Center), and L’Art Vivant aux Etats-Unis (1970, Fondation Maeght), among others. In 1972, at the height of his success, Lukin shocked the art world by dissolving his relationship with The Pace Gallery and refusing to display his work in a commercial setting. His paintings were not seen again publicly until 1978, when the Los Angeles County Museum of Art mounted a solo-exhibition of his work.

Lukin’s work is featured in the collections of major museums around the country, including: the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.