Sven Lukin, Disneyesque, 1970-71
Enamel on masonite and wood
84 x 66 x 6 inches
May 24 – June 30, 2012
Gary Snyder Gallery is pleased to announce Sven Lukin, an exhibition of paintings and drawings at 529 West 20th Street. Opening on May 24, 2012, the exhibition is the first since 1978 to present new works by the artist. Seven of Lukin’s recent paintings will be on view, alongside seven of his famed “shaped canvases” from the 1960s. The exhibition will also include a selection of preparatory drawings, many of which have never been shown before.
The exhibition offers detailed views of the artist’s work during the 1960s and the past decade. Works such as Diamond Head (1964), Trafalgar (1965), Piano Lesson (1967), and Janus (2009) illustrate Lukin’s career-long involvement with bringing painting out from two-dimensional space and into the realm of architecture. Unlike his peers Richard Smith, Frank Stella, and Neil Williams, Lukin was not merely satisfied with changing the shape of his stretchers. He wants 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 Art Foundation), Vormen van de Kleur (1964, Stedelijk Museum), The Shaped Canvas (1965, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum), Color, Image, and Form (1967, Detroit Institute of Arts), Painting: Out from the Wall (1968, Des Moines Art Center), and L’art vivant aux États-Unis (1970, Fondation Maeght), among others. In 1972, at the height of his success, Lukin severed his ties with the Pace Gallery and refused 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. In November 2010, a survey of the artist’s early work, Sven Lukin: Paintings, 1960–1971, opened at GARY SNYDER Project Space.
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.