Craig F. Starr Gallery is pleased to announce the next exhibition in our fourth-floor gallery, Deborah Remington: Early Drawings, which will showcase twenty of the artist’s iconic drawings made between the early-1960s and the early-1980s. Organized in collaboration with the artist’s estate, this exhibition will bring together many of Remington’s most important examples from these career-defining decades, including several rarely exhibited works on loan from prestigious private collections.
In 1965, Deborah Remington succinctly expressed her artistic ambitions: “I am concerned with expressing an intense and personal vision through an imagery which is particularly my own.” These drawings succinctly thematize this goal by showcasing the development of Remington’s signature abstract vocabulary: floating shield forms, loosely organized around a central axis, which appear both organic and mechanical simultaneously. Remington’s drawings were always experimental and never studies in any traditional sense, coexisting alongside her painting practice with equal importance. As she wrote in 1976, drawing “is always related to but never derived from the ideas which govern my painting….it is really a separate art with a life and vitality of its own.”
This exhibition draws together significant works from at least three major bodies of work, beginning with Remington’s Adelphi series, begun in 1963. These works are characterized by overlapping and splintering shapes floating in an indeterminate space, which are rendered in smoothly graded tones with accents of orange or oxblood. These drawings have, in the words of artist and writer John Mendelsohn, “a hard-edged precision that paradoxically evokes a sense of animated life.”
Alongside these works will be examples from her celebrated Soot series, where central forms, surrounded by auras of light, emerge from a powdery blackness. These fully realized drawings—which evolved from several notebook studies which will also be on view—evoke varied associations, from car grilles to air vents. While some of these works are rendered on thin scrims of muslin, Remington thought of them all as drawings, made using soot from her fireplace meticulously applied in layers.
In contrast with the Adelphi and Soot drawings are works from Remington’s Trace series, which stand out with their spare, playful compositions. These drawings, executed in black spray paint and graphite, are studies in tonal modulation and asymmetrical compositions, with “images carefully placed in the manner of calligraphic characters and ikebana,” writes independent critic and curator Lilly Wei.
Remington’s career began in the early 1950s while she was a student at the San Francisco Art Institute, where she studied with Abstract Expressionist painters including Clyfford Still, David Park, and Elmer Bischoff. She quickly became part of the vibrant Bay Area Beat scene and co-founded the influential 6 Gallery in 1954, where Allen Ginsberg first publicly recited “Howl.” Following her graduation in 1955, Remington traveled for two years in Japan, Southeast Asia, and India, a formative experience which left a lasting impression, especially her training in calligraphy. By the mid-1960s Remington moved to New York City and continued to refine her unique hard-edge aesthetic, showing her work at the celebrated Bykert Gallery alongside that of peers including Brice Marden, Chuck Close, and Dorothea Rockburne.
This exhibition will be on view in Craig F. Starr Gallery’s fourth-floor gallery between May 4 and July 30, 2021, by appointment, and will run concurrently to a five-decade survey of Remington’s work at Bortolami Gallery in Tribeca.
Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated essay written by Gilles Heno-Coe, which can be read by following this link to our online viewing room or downloaded as a PDF below.
For more information about Deborah Remington or to schedule an appointment, please contact Emily Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org.