Sanford Wurmfeld: Variations

Sanford Wurmfeld’s studio in Tribeca, NYC, 2019

March 2 – April 20, 2019
Opening: Saturday, March 2, 6-8pm

MINUS SPACE is delighted to present the exhibition Sanford Wurmfeld: Variations. This is the NYC artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery and it will highlight a suite of new abstract paintings meticulously organized around a select palette of 29 colors.

For more than five decades, Sanford Wurmfeld has exhaustively investigated the subject of color and its capacity to elicit wide-ranging emotional responses in the viewer. He has produced work across a broad array of media during his career, including painting, works on paper, sculpture, installation, and filmmaking.

For his new exhibition, Wurmfeld presents his latest inquiry into color’s three essential qualities: hue (a single, pure color), value (lightness or darkness of a color), and saturation (relative purity or intensity of a color). Using Arthur Pope’s color system as a point of departure – Pope was an early 20th Century color theorist and fine arts instructor at Harvard University – Wurmfeld organizes his new paintings around a 12-part color circle. which includes each of the 12 colors at full saturation, 10 of those same colors at half saturation (with the exception of yellow and violet), and 7 grays. Wurmfeld then places selections of those 29 colors onto layered grids of shifting alignment, which are often bookended by narrow bands of contrasting colors.

Wurmfeld recognizes color perception to be a highly subjective experience and he openly embraces differing, individualized responses on the part of the viewer. He writes, “For the last hundred years, some artist’s intentional selection of color in painting has been crucial to formulating expression. Such use of particular color choices by the discerning artist, creating through experiences of assimilation and contrast, give rise to various pictorial structures of pattern, space, duration, film, and luminosity. When the active, searching viewer has such emergent experiences, even though these experiences are ambiguous and shifting, the expressive feeling of the work is communicated.

For further information about Sanford Wurmfeld, his exhibition, and available artworks, please contact the gallery. Available artworks can also be viewed on our Artsy page.

Sanford Wurmfeld (b. 1942 in Bronx, NY) has exhibited his work worldwide in solo and group exhibitions since the late 1960s. In 2013, he was the subject of a major 45-year survey exhibition entitled Sanford Wurmfeld: Color Visions, 1966-2013 curated by William C. Agee at Hunter College/Times Square Gallery, NYC. He has also presented solo exhibitions at Neuberger Museum of Art, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, Galerie Denise Rene, Susan Caldwell Gallery, Bard College, Maxwell Davidson Gallery (all New York), Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum (Hagen, Germany), Mucsarnok Kunsthalle (Budapest, Hungary), Talbot-Rice Gallery (Edinburgh, Scotland), 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), Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (Summit, NJ), 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.

Here at the gallery, Wurmfeld mounted the well-received solo exhibition Light & Dark in 2013 and presented new paintings in the two-person exhibition Polychromy alongside Gabriele Evertz in 2017. His work was also highlighted in our group exhibitions On Paper in 2016 and Pointing a Telescope at the Sun in 2011, among other projects.

Complementing his studio practice, 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.

Founded in 2003, MINUS SPACE presents the past, present, and future of reductive art on the international level.

Paintings About Change, Not Perfection, by John Yau, Hyperallergic, April 7, 2019
Sanford Wurmfeld: Variations, by Robert C. Morgan, The Brooklyn Rail, April 2019