Sanford Wurmfeld: Light & Dark

Sanford Wurmfeld, MINUS SPACE

Installation view of Sanford Wurmfeld: Color Visions 1966-2013
Hunter College Times Square Gallery, NY, 2013
Photo: Louis Chan

March 29 – May 4, 2013

MINUS SPACE is delighted to announce the exhibition Sanford Wurmfeld: Light & Dark. This is the New York-based artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and it will feature a suite of new paintings investigating the extremes of light and dark value in color painting.

For more than 40 years, Sanford Wurmfeld has exhaustively investigated the subject of color through its essential qualities of hue, value, and saturation. His specific interest in the colors black and white began in the early-1960s after encountering the work of Abstract Expressionist Franz Kline at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art (1962) and was again renewed through meeting painter Ad Reinhardt at Hunter College and seeing his retrospective at The Jewish Museum (1966).

In 2011 Wurmfeld took up the subject of black and white, and began to produce a new body of work that upon initial impression appears to be monochromatic, but after closer examination by the viewer reveals broader chromatic breadth. Using only the subtlest tints of color within each painting, individual hues are arranged chromatically into intersecting horizontal and vertical bands of progressively varying widths. The paintings push the physiological limits of color perception and gradually reveal a kind of spectral black and white. Wurmfeld remarks, “I really want you to walk in the room and see these and think, ‘it’s just a white canvas,’ and then slowly get into it”.

Working by trial and error, Wurmfeld mixes and modifies each of the hues employed in his paintings empirically by eye without relying on any supporting scientific or mathematical system. He believes the perception of color to be a highly subjective experience and he openly embraces divergent, individualized responses on the part of viewers. He explains, “I think the semantic connotation of the viewer is uncontrollable by the artist. We each bring to the paintings some kind of baggage that is far from universal, and so each of these paintings has a different emotional content. I mean emotional as an almost visceral response, rather than a feeling you would name with words. I recognize that it’s there, but I don’t think it’s something that I’m particularly controlling for the viewer. I’m just creating something that creates a kind of visceral response in me. And then it may or may not have that kind of response in other people”.

Concurrent with his exhibition at the gallery, Wurmfeld is also the subject of a major 47-year retrospective exhibition entitled Sanford Wurmfeld: Color Visions 1966-2013 on view now at Hunter College Times Square Gallery, NY, through Saturday, April 20, 2013. The exhibition was curated by William C. Agee, Evelyn Kranes Kossak Professor of Art History at Hunter College, and is accompanied by a 160-page catalog with texts by Robert L. Herbert, William C. Agee, Bridget McCarthy, Rotem Linial, Nicoline Strøm-Jensen, Joan Reutershan, and Theresa Andrea Morrison.

Sanford Wurmfeld (b. 1942 in Bronx, NY) has exhibited his work worldwide in solo and group exhibitions since the late 1960s. His solo exhibitions include Tibor de Nagy Gallery, Galerie Denise Rene, Susan Caldwell Gallery, Bard College (all New York), Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum (Hagen, Germany), Mucsarnok Kunsthalle (Budapest, Hungary), Talbot-Rice Gallery (Edinburgh, Scotland), Neuberger Museum (Purchase, NY), and Ewing Museum Gallery (Knoxville, TN).

In 1968 Wurmfeld was the youngest artist included in the landmark exhibition Art of the Real curated by Eugene Goossen at the Museum of Modern Art, NY. The exhibition traveled for the next two years to the Grand Palais (Paris, France), Kunsthaus (Zurich, Switzerland), and The Tate Gallery (London, England). Wurmfeld’s other museum group exhibitions include the American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Academy Museum (both New York), Dayton Art Museum (Dayton, OH), Long Beach Museum of Art (Long Beach, CA), Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum (Hagen, Germany), and Espace de l’Art Concret (Mouans-Sartoux, France), among others.

Wurmfeld has lectured and written extensively on the history of color, painting, and abstraction. He has received awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, City University of New York, and Dartmouth College. Wurmfeld’s work is included in collections worldwide, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum (all New York), Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum, Sprengler Museum (both Germany), and Espace de l’Art Concret (France), among others.

In addition to his artistic work, Wurmfeld taught in the Department of Art at Hunter College from 1967-2012, where he educated and mentored countless generations of artists. Originally invited to join the faculty by sculptor Tony Smith and critic Eugene Goossen, Wurmfeld was Chairman of the department from 1978-2006.

A Chorus of Color: Sanford Wurmfeld Retrospective 2013, by Heather Zises, (READ)art, May 2013
Sanford Wurmfeld: Light & Dark, by Margaret Graham, The Brooklyn Rail, May 2013
Sanford Wurmfeld at MINUS SPACE, NY Arts Magazine, April 2013
Brooklyn Show at MINUS SPACE: Not Everything Can Be Virtual, by Isabel del Rio, Yareah Magazine, April 9, 2013