Harvey Quaytman paintings on show in New York

McKee gallery shows one of the 20th century's least classifiable painters (and the subject of our new monograph)
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Redwing (1997-98) by Harvey Quaytman
Redwing (1997-98) by Harvey Quaytman

In 1970 the American abstract painter Harvey Quaytman wrote a brief passage to explain why he had chosen to create specially shaped canvasses. "These forms are my way of making space for colour to be in" he stated. "An outrigger on a canoe isn't there for decoration. It is there because the water is rough."

 

Harvey Quaytman, early 1970s. Image courtesy of Frances Barth
Harvey Quaytman, early 1970s. Image courtesy of Frances Barth

The comparison is a remarkably muscular one for an artist to make; yet it does offer us some understanding of Quaytman and his paintings. His spare, geometric 20th century paintings could be compared favorably with the works of a slightly earlier generation, such as Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning, as well as closer contemporaries like Brice Marden. Although he died in 2002, Quaytman's reputation continues to grow, as the art establishment reconciles his place within the canon.

As Dore Asthon Professor of Art History at Cooper Union, puts it in the preface to our new monograph, "to those art historians who feel obliged to label him, Quaytman is impossible ... At the end, his great interest was in what, for want of a more accurate term, I will call creative restraint: a deeply knowledgeable discipline that, by apparently imposing limitations, opened marvelously."

 

Moon Fancy (1969) by Harvey Quaytman
Moon Fancy (1969) by Harvey Quaytman

Those keen to view the fruits of such restraint should visit New York's McKee gallery, which is staging an exhibition of his paintings and drawings. Harvey Quaytman February 19 - March 22, 2014

The exhibition comes fifty years after his first solo US exhibition, and coincides with the publication of our new monograph, the first to explore his vast body of work. Yet this is no publicity drive. As gallerist Renee McKee puts explains, "We opened the gallery in 1974 with only three artists: Philip Guston, The Estate of Franz Kline, and Harvey Quaytman, so it is especially gratifying and important to see this very first monograph on Harvey appear forty years later on Phaidon's list of publications. This beautiful book reaffirms what a good artist he was and will certainly extend his reach to more artists, museums and collectors."

 

Studio Still Life (London) 1969 by Harvey Quaytman
Studio Still Life (London) 1969 by Harvey Quaytman

The show will open on Wednesday February 19 with a reception and panel discussion at the gallery, with Professor Ashton and Harvey's daughter, the highly respected painter, Rebecca (R.H.) Quaytman. Find out more here. You can also order a copy of the Quaytman monograph from the people who made it, here.

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