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Frieze Masters

Regent's Park, London

Stand E5

October 4 – 9, 2016

Susan Rothenberg Split, 1974
Chuck Close (b. 1940)

Press Release


Chuck Close, Susan Rothenberg, Joel Shapiro

Craig F. Starr Gallery will present a special exhibition of the work of Chuck Close, Susan Rothenberg, and Joel Shapiro.  Three artists who at first glance seem divergent – two painters, one a photographically based realist, the other an expressionist, and a sculptor – but who on further examination resonate with each other sharing similar core practices and affinities.[1]  Sitting at the cross roads of American art in the late 60s and early 70s and reacting to the then dominant currents of Minimalism, they belong to a distinct subdivision of Post-Minimalism.  They are part of an “unofficial” group of Post-Minimal artists, as described by the art critic Roberta Smith, who reintroduced subject matter and meaning, legible meaning – here, houses, horses, and heads – as well as their associated moods and feelings.[2]  They were able to dramatize Minimalism by adding withheld emotional content.  They rethought the division between abstraction and representation and fused the resulting images with the processes of making them – they explored and revealed the forming of forms.  Close, Rothenberg, and Shapiro, each in their own different and multivalent ways, had a mutual interest in the handmade, and through their unusual use of scale, both small and large, they constructed and literally built their images.  Amplified by working in series, they were able to achieve a certain density of expression.  Their works feel contemporary and yet strangely part of the distant past.  They are immediate and present but still somehow removed; vulnerable but enduring.  They are both generic and individual, residing in an in-between space of the archetypal and the unique.  They are monumental and commemorative, in the sense of holding onto a memory of something or someone, or even one’s self – they both darkly recall and vibrantly transcend loss.



[1]  Close and Shapiro were included in the 1977 Whitney Biennial; Close, Rothenberg, and Shapiro were included in the 1979 Whitney Biennial; Shapiro and Rothenberg were both exhibited in Hunt, Jenney, Lane, Rothenberg, Shapiro at Vassar College Art Gallery (1978) and Abstract Images at Willard Gallery (1977); and Close and Rothenberg were included in the Albright-Knox Gallery’s travelling show American Painting of the 1970s (1978-80).

[2]  Roberta Smith expanded upon Robert Pincus-Witten’s classification of the Post-Minimalists – see Robert Pincus-Witten, Postminimalism: American Art of the Decade (New York: Out of London Press, 1977).  While Pincus-Witten defined his group of Post-Minimalists around the rubric of abstraction, Smith speculated that even “the entire decade of the 1970s might be labeled Post-Minimal.”  Smith had Shapiro occupying “the dividing line between the essentially reductivist, monastic “official” post-Minimalists and the non-reductivist, worldly ‘unofficial’ ones.”  Roberta Smith, “Joel Shapiro,” Joel Shapiro (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1982).