For Students

Past Exhibitions: 2003

Pat Steir: Colors and Other Colors on Top

September 28-February 2, 2003
Museum Apse

Pat Steir
Pat Steir
Colors and Other Colors on Top, 2002
View of installation

The art of Pat Steir, internationally renowned painter, printmaker, and installation artist, often brings together intriguing contradictions. Dynamic yet meditative, energetic yet soothing, this installation, commissioned by UMMA for its most dramatic space, is an exploration of the range of power and subtlety that paint allows. Steir's application of pigment retains the immediacy of the artist's hand, wed to the careful, thoughtful planning and calculation that underlies every stroke. The seemingly effortless result is the culmination of hours, days, and even months of intellectual preparation, yet it is vibrancy and not laborious contemplation that the viewer senses in the work.

Pat Steir
Pat Steir
Colors and Other Colors on Top, 2002
View of installation in progress of creation

Pat Steir's painting style comes out of the minimalist tradition of "less is more," which she combined with the ideas of painters from the Abstract Expressionist movement such as Jackson Pollock and Hans Hoffman. An imitator of neither stylistic tradition, Steir charted her own individual course where the ideas from both traditions were assimilated and then "performed" by the artist. The results of her paintings and prints have been likened to a variety of natural phenomena, waterfalls, sea mists, and stars, for example, that appear to emerge from the richly layered surfaces. Her works also evoke the underlying forces of the world around us and convey a meditative, poetic, and serene mood rather than a direct representation of external phenomena. No matter how one "reads" Pat Steir's work, the dynamic application of pigment and provocative surfaces she has created here have transformed the apse into a contemplative space and a portal into another world, be it the primal forces of nature and the cosmos or an interior world of personal thought and reflection.

Pat Steir was born Iris Patricia Sukoneck in Newark, New Jersey on April 10, 1940. She studied at both the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and at Boston University, receiving her BFA from Pratt in 1962 (she later received an honorary doctorate from her alma mater in 1991). After a stint as Art Director at Harper & Row, Steir taught at several prestigious institutions including Parsons School of Design, Princeton University, Hunter College, and the California Institute of the Arts. The recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants and a Guggenheim grant, Pat Steir has had over 145 solo exhibitions across the globe and has been included in even more group exhibitions.

Pat Steir
Pat Steir
Colors and Other Colors on Top, 2002
View of installation in progress of creation

Pat Steir's site-specific work is part of UMMA's ongoing series of contemporary installations in the apse. She joins the ranks of other artists who have been inspired by the unique architectural attributes afforded by this space, including Sol LeWitt, Annette Lawrence, Donald Sultan, and Kara Walker.

Sean M. Ulmer
University Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

 

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