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DAN CHRISTENSEN


G R E E N G L O W , 20 0 4 , A C R Y L I C O N C A N VA S , 2 6 x 5 8 I N . (C O V E R D E TA I L )

DAN CHRISTENSEN (1942–2007) was a leading figure in the Color Field movement whose relentless experimentation with new tools and materials made him among the most ambitious abstract and gestural artists of his time. In the late 1960s, Dan Christensen’s art was championed by important curators, critics, and art dealers like Dick Bellamy and André Emmerich, and significant paintings were placed in major museum collections around the United States. However, it is only recently that his multifaceted oeuvre has received the widespread attention it has long deserved. The traveling retro­spective, Dan Christensen: Forty Years of Painting, organized by the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City, Missouri) in 2009, helped make a convincing case for a heightened appreciation of Christensen’s work and his significant place in postwar abstraction. In a day when artists were often held to a specific type of form, Christensen changed his approach and aesthetic often, at times in dramatic reversals and at other times in a return to and an expansion of earlier themes. His use of spray guns, window-washing squeegees, rakes, blasters, and house painting rollers were not the basis of his art but the vehicles that enabled him to strive for new ways of seeing. As noted in a review in Artforum of his Kemper show, the critic Peter Plagens observed that with his gutsy combination of elements, Christensen arrived “at some sort of visual poetry.” Dan Christensen was born in Cozad, Nebraska in 1942. Seeing the work of Jackson Pollock on a trip to Denver when he was teenager motivated him to become an artist. He pursued this aim at the Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts. After moving to New York in 1964, he rose quickly to fame among a group of young artists who were reviving painting during a time that minimalism was prevalent. He joined the ranks of other well-known Color Field painters like Kenneth Noland, Jules

Olitski and Larry Poons. Christensen first gained renown for his spray loop paintings, in which he used the spray gun to create repeating calligraphic circles, producing shimmering allover surface effects. His work progressed in several directions, including his plaids, in which he used rollers and squeegees to “get more paint down on the canvas,” resulting in tighter compositions that at the same time had an improvisational quality as their compositions were determined in the artist’s “editing” phase. In another series, he used sticks and brush ends to cut into thick acrylic strata, abrading his surfaces to let colorful underlayers emerge. In the 1980s, he returned to the loop, using color sprays to create blurred circles and evanescent mandala-like lozenges. Christensen conjoined his thematic issues in the mid-1990s, creat­ing orbs of colors that seem to melt as well as move through fluorescent and celestial atmospheres, their shifting lines implying the Pythagorean harmony of the spheres as well as atomic energy and matter. He was creating works of heightened brilliance and intensity at his early death in 2007. Christensen received a National Endowment Grant in 1968 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1969. His paintings are held in over thirty museum collections, including the Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Seattle Art Museum; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and many others. Last summer, Gagosian Gallery in London included the 1968 masterpiece Pavo in their exhibition entitled “Sprayed,” featuring works by Jules Olitski, David Smith, and Christopher Wool. The Dan Christensen retrospective at Berry Campbell will feature a considerable number of paintings that have not been publicly viewed in decades.


DAN CHRISTENSEN S E P T E M B E R 1 7 – O C T O B E R 1 7, 2 01 5

M O D E R N A N D C O N T E M P O R A R Y A R T  5 3 0 W E S T 2 4 T H S T R E E T   N E W Y O R K , N Y 1 0 01 1  I N F O @ B E R R Y C A M P B E L L . C O M  T E L 212.924.2178   T U E – S AT, 1 0 – 6 

V I E W T H E E N T I R E E X H I B I T I O N AT W W W. B E R R YC A M P B E L L . C O M


W AV E R LY P L A C E

FOR DAN CHRISTENSEN

There was nothing like a visit to your studio where we would sit up on high chairs to look at your new work and drink Rolling Rock. The chairs were from a pool hall, perches from which to watch a game of nine-ball, but instead of viewing spheres in primary colors rolling over the rectangle of a green baize, we might be staring at pastel spirals on cotton, yellow coils on a field of mustard, optical targets, planet blobs, tiny blue and pink afterthoughts, and more than once, a color I had never seen. The movement in your pictures is you moving, pacing, layering, splattering, a wild laborer with his odd tools—rake, spray gun, squeegee, spoon. So even now, in this catalogue on my lap on a far-away white couch, signs of your kinetic presence are visible. On every page I can see the looping traces of your living hand.

BILLY COLLINS


FA N D A N G O , 19 8 8 , A C R Y L I C O N C A N VA S , 5 5 x 2 6 I N .

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UN TI TLED, 1966, ACRYL IC ON MASONI TE, 90 x 60 IN.

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S O U T H D E L R AY WAY , 1 97 0, A C R Y L I C O N C A N VA S , 6 5 1 ⁄2 x 8 3 3 ⁄4 I N .

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SELECTED MUSEUM COLLECTIONS Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, St. Joseph, Missouri Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio Art Institute of Chicago Blanton Museum of American Art, University of Texas at Austin Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio Dayton Art Institute, Ohio Denver Museum of Art, Colorado Detroit Institute of Arts Museum Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta, Canada Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, California Greenville County Museum of Art, South Carolina Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri Kunstmuseum, St. Gallen, Switzerland Ludwig Collection in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, Germany Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Massachusetts Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri Mulvane Art Museum, Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas Museum f端r Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, Florida Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Modern Art, New York Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri

Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York Nickle Arts Museum, University of Calgary, Canada Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York Portland Art Museum, Oregon Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California Seattle Art Museum, Washington Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska, Lincoln Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio The Washington Art Consortium, Western Washington University, Bellingham Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Wichita Art Museum, Kansas

AWARDS 1968, National Endowment Grant 1969, Guggenheim Fellowship Theodoran Award 1986, Gottlieb Foundation Grant 1992, Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant

D O R A D O , 1 9 6 8 , A C R Y L I C O N C A N VA S , 10 0 x 14 0 I N .

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C O U VA D E , 1 97 9, A C R Y L I C O N C A N VA S , 74 x 8 1 I N .

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G O L D E N D R E A M O F M E X I C O , 1 9 8 5 , A C R Y L I C O N C A N VA S , 6 8 x 6 5 1 ⁄2 I N .

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B AY E Z , 1 9 9 5 , A C R Y L I C O N C A N VA S , 7 5 x 9 0 I N .

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D O L B Y , 1 9 9 8 , A C R Y L I C O N C A N VA S , 6 5 x 7 0 I N .

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K I N G ’ S P O I N T , 20 0 2 , A C R Y L I C O N C A N VA S , 7 9 x 5 5 1 ⁄2 I N .

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R H Y M E W R I T E R ( Y E L L O W ) , 20 0 3, A C R Y L I C O N C A N VA S , 4 0 x 3 0 I N .

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M O D E R N A N D C O N T E M P O R A R Y A R T  5 3 0 W E S T 2 4 T H S T R E E T   N E W Y O R K , N Y 1 0 01 1  I N F O @ B E R R Y C A M P B E L L . C O M  T E L 212 .924.2178  T U E – S AT, 1 0 – 6  W W W. B E R R YC A M P B E L L . C O M

Profile for Berry Campbell Gallery

Dan Christensen (1942-2007) | A Retrospective  

Christensen’s relentless experimentation with new tools and materials made him among the most ambitious abstract and gestural artists of his...

Dan Christensen (1942-2007) | A Retrospective  

Christensen’s relentless experimentation with new tools and materials made him among the most ambitious abstract and gestural artists of his...

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