Friday, August 21, 2009

Pat Steir: When Painting Comes to You

WATERFALL OF FUNDIMENTS, 1990, oil on canvas, 92" 1/2 x 132"

It was around 1988 at a library in a small town in Iowa that I first found a book about the work of Pat Steir. That book was one of the first I’d found in a local library that showed a detailed historical progression of a contemporary painter and the name “Pat Steir” was promptly written into my sketchbook as one of my top ten artists. Twelve years later, I walked into the Des Moines Art Center and saw a major exhibition of Steir’s “Waterfall” paintings that also included works from her “Moon and Wave” series. The day I actually saw her paintings wasn’t just another quiet day at the museum—it was the opening of her show, and Pat was there. I didn’t get to talk with her, but I did view her work, and was amazed. The simplicity of means—just letting the paint flow downward—and the way each canvas took up visual space on its own really showed me what paint could do, rather than what could be done with paint. Pat Steir is still on my list of favorite painters, but the list has gotten much larger and just keeps growing…

BLACK AND GOLD, 2009, oil on canvas, 84” x 84”



Images courtesy Cheim & Read, New York.