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ROBERT SUSSMAN DAT E S T K . 2 0 0 4

Curated by Thomas Nozkowski


f o r wa r d

We are honored to host this exhibition of New York painter Robert Sussman which has been generously curated by fellow artist Tom Nozkowski. Sussman is a painter who has established and helped a number of arts organizations over the years and has received much admiration from his contemporaries, not only for such generosity but also for his unique artistic voice, Nozkowski’s appreciation of Sussman’s painting demonstrates just such admiration. We appreciate that artists often work tirelessly without thought or concern for exhibition. CUE is pleased to recognize such commitment by affording just such an opportunity, thus celebrating the efforts of artists such as Robert Sussman.


c u r at or’s s t at e m e n t

a r t i s t’s s ta t e m e n t

I imagined that the biggest problem facing me in putting together a show of Robert

I was most influenced by abstract expressionists, so I favor experience over conceptu-

Sussman’s work would be deciding how to sample a forty year long career in a way

alization. The best thing a painting can do, for me, is to come up with something new

that illustrated its full range and depth. Whether to choose a snapshot of a moment

visually, something that gives me a new way of looking at a thing. I like the idea that

or two, or a more measured sampling of all the work, well, that is a problem.

paintings can open eyes and change peoples’ understanding of what they see. Not to

The decision turns out to be not too hard to make. Given both the constraints of space – we can include ten to twenty paintings here at the CUE Art Foundation Gallery – and the happy and successful paintings made over the last year or so in

be too grandiose about this, but I think the art of looking clearly, of seeing things afresh, is the part of art that we can actually use in our lives. I think a good work of art can be felt physically as you look at it. You can imagine

Sussman’s studio, this ensemble of recent work will stand perfectly as the sign of a

your body in the painting, or making the painting with your own hands, or feeling a

long and rich oeuvre.

texture and the temperature of a color.

“Happy” works: slightly unhinged, sweet but rowdy, good humored and more

The fact that people have made and enjoyed paintings for thirty thousand years

than a little self conscious – these paintings know you are looking at them. They are

speaks well for us and makes me feel optimistic when I paint – even when contempo-

slightly dazed by their good luck to be out here today in a nice gallery and they are

rary events seem to warrant only negativity.

very pleased to do some tricks. This isn’t just Paul Klee’s famous “taking a line… for a walk,” everything rambles around in these paintings. Shapes, textures, colors and compositions are hiking all over the place. Their performance is a little scandalous, I think, in how they toy with so many of the images of modern painting. These are, in a certain sense, cartoons of abstraction, the Walter Lantz version of the sublime. Howard Finster dealing with Clement Greenberg instead of the New Testament. Don’t get me wrong: Sussman is a sophisticated painter and as knowledgeable about contemporary art as any artist I know. But I do think he has a very special take on art, slightly distanced and really quite amused by it. Microscopes and telescopes both make things look funny – it is only in normal range that we can lose our sense of humor. Funny is pretty much small beer by itself, but conflate it with some intricate human system (like Formalism here or Democracy for Mark Twain) and you can get something very rich, indeed. The best humor gives us a double vision of ourselves, subverts our pretensions and, best of all, helps us see things new. Seeing things new

Once I thought that making images of things was arrogant. Now I believe otherwise, that making pictures, of real and imagined objects, is the best thing in the world. I like the atmosphere created by bright, high-keyed colors. For me, colors of equal luminance are read as joyful. Flat frontal shapes evoke a sense of physical immediacy. These shapes play with “almost being.” They are more-or-less rectilinear, more-or-less biomorphic, more-orless something or other. “Almost” is a quality that is important to me, because it frees people to take that “almost” image into any area -- from mundane and obvious readings, to their most personal associations. If I am interested in something in the world, I am interested in using it in my paintings. Not just art objects and images, but all the stuff we deal with in our lives can contribute meaningfully to making paintings. I also use a lot of imagery drawn from the natural sciences, architecture, typography, maps, games and, of course, from other artists. I want to thank the CUE Art Foundation for this opportunity to show my paintings and Thomas Nozkowski for helping me put this exhibition together.

is the goal. The joke on the joke is that these pictures turn out to be very good formally – yes – with their fabulously odd colors, complex shapes and fascinating compositions.

Robert Sussman Brooklyn, NY January 18, 2004

Thomas Nozkowski


UNTITLED Acrylic on panel, 18" x 24", 200 3

UNTITLED Acrylic on panel, 36" x 48", 2003


UNTITLED Acrylic on panel, 36" x 48", 2003

UNTITLED Acrylic on panel, 36" x 48", 2003


UNTITLED Acrylic on panel, 36" x 48", 2003

UNTITLED Acrylic on panel, 18" x 24", 2003


UNTITLED Acrylic on panel, 36" x 48", 2003

UNTITLED Acrylic on panel, 36" x 48", 2003


UNTITLED Acrylic on panel, 24" x 36", 200 3

UNTITLED Acrylic on panel, 24" x 36", 200 3 His sheet says 24 x 26 but that doesn't seem right


UNTITLED Acrylic on panel, 24" x 36", 200 3

UNTITLED Acrylic on panel, 24" x 36", 2003


artist’s biography

curat or’ s bi og raphy

Robert Sussman was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1943. He studied at the Art

Thomas Nozkowski is a painter who has had over sixty one-person shows of his work

Students League, the Brooklyn Museum Art School, New York University, and The

since 1979. His most recent exhibitions include a show of new work at the Max

Cooper Union. In the seventies he helped to establish the Anonymous Artists of

Protetch Gallery (November, 2003) and a twenty-five year survey of his drawings at

America Cattle Ranch Inc., an artists’ commune in Red Wing, Colorado. After return-

the New York Studio School (January 2003). He is represented in the collections of

ing to New York, his work was shown in numerous exhibitions in the U.S. and Canada.

many museums including, The Addison Gallery of American Art, The Brooklyn

From 1985 to 1989 he was a member and president of the 55 Mercer Street Gallery,

Museum, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, The High Museum of Art, The Hirshhorn

a cooperative gallery in New York’s SoHo. During the late eighties and early nineties

Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of

he taught at the Parsons School of Design. In 1990 he participated in the Triangle

Modern Art, The Phillips Collection, and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,

Artists Workshop in Rhinebeck, New York. Articles about his paintings have appeared

among others. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and has received the American Academy

in Ocular Magazine, 1981; Fredag (Danish Magazine for Literature, Culture and

of Arts and Letters Award in Painting. He is Professor of Painting at the Mason Gross

Politics) November 1987 by Christian Juul Jessen; Hrymfaxe Kunsttidsskrift (Danish

School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

Art Magazine), March 1995, article by Lars Aagaard-Mogensen.


c u e a r t f o u n d a t i o n m i s s i o n s tat e m e n t

B OA R D O F D I R E C TO R S

Gregory Amenoff CUE Art Foundation, a non-profit organization, provides educational programs

Thomas G. Devine

for young artists and aspiring art professionals in New York and from around the

Thomas K. Y. Hsu

country. These programs draw on the unique community of artists, critics, and

Brian D. Starer

educators brought together by the Foundation’s season of exhibitions, public lectures, and its in-gallery studio program. Gallery internships and stipends afford

A DV I S O RY C O U N C I L

the next generation of art professionals intimate, working knowledge of the art-

Gregory Amenoff

making and exhibition processes. CUE’s 2000 sq. ft. gallery and offices, located in

Vicky A. Clark

New York’s Chelsea gallery district, serves as the base for the various educational

William Corbett

programs conducted by CUE.

Petah Coyne

The Foundation’s exhibition season gives unknown or under-recognized artists

James Drake Bruce Ferguson

professional exposure comparable to that offered by neighboring commercial galleries, without the usual financial restraints. CUE does not promote a particular

Sanford Hirsch Dana Hoey

school of artistic practice or regional bias; we only require that exhibiting artists must either not have had a solo exhibition in a commercial venue, or have received minimal recent public exposure.

G A L L E R Y D I R E C TO R

Jeremy Adams

CUE’s Advisory Council, an honorary group of artists and leading figures from the arts education, applied arts, art history, and literary communities, has the responsibility of selecting exhibition curators. The curators, in turn, nominate artists to exhibit at CUE, and continue to play a role throughout the exhibition process, helping the artists catalogue their work for exhibition. Both the Advisory Council and the exhibition curators actively participate in the public lectures and educational programs.

A L L A R T WO R K © R O BE R T S US S M A N C ATA LO G D E S I G N E D B Y E L I Z A B E T H E L L I S P R I N T E D I N C A N A DA

G A L L E R Y A S S I S TA N T

Sandhini Poddar


Robert Sussman