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Art Green: Soft Serve

April 23 – May 31, 2021

Garth Greenan Gallery is pleased to announce the gallery’s fifth online viewing room, Art Green: Soft Serve. Opening on April 23, 2021, the exhibition traces the development of Green's work from 1974 to 2015. For over 48 years, the artist has carefully honed a personal iconography of Platonic forms—ice cream cones, wood grain patterns, burning candles, moonlit landscapes, and perfectly polished fingernails. Green orchestrates this eclectic mix into visual pandemonium, creating circuitous and puzzling—yet ultimately fitting—juxtapositions.

Painting 1

Second Sight, 1986

Oil on canvas mounted to panel

25 3/4 x 22 3/4 inches

In Second Sight (1986), Green replicates the visual experience of a fun house lined with mirrors. Each reflective surface multiplies the number of visual dimensions by a factor of four. The objects—shadowy pictures of men and women—modulate in color as they reflect along the surfaces' various axes. As in many of the artist’s works, any anchor of reality is displaced by recursive illusions.

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United Opposition, 1975

Oil on canvas

68 1/4 x 47 inches

Fat Chance, 1980

Oil on canvas over panel

84 x 36 inches

Near Distance, 2011

Oil on canvas over panel

46 x 27 1/2 inches

United Opposition, 1975

Oil on canvas

68 1/4 x 47 inches

Fat Chance, 1980

Oil on canvas over panel

84 x 36 inches

Near Distance, 2011

Oil on canvas over panel

46 x 27 1/2 inches

Archival Photo 2
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Green enrolled in the School of the Art Institute with the intention of following in the footsteps of his father, a bridge-building engineer. Despite Green’s initial focus on industrial design, the artist felt himself inexorably pulled toward painting. 

Painting 2

Restricted Entry, 1974

Oil on canvas

66 x 48 inches

In works like Restricted Entry (1974), Green departs from engineering’s Newtonian mechanics in favor of more esoteric, theoretical physics. A lattice of bungee cords suspends what looks like an ice-cream-cone-shaped tarp above a big square hole in a hardwood floor. The tarp, splitting at its center, reveals a fiery pit bellow, like a trapdoor to hell. The artist’s perplexing and playful scene is like an optic puzzle, with endless dimensional and physical contradictions. Green places a window in the same visual axis as the floor, and paints flames that congenially lick the unperturbed ice cream. Upon further inspection, even the bungee cords and flooring reveal themselves to be illusions of this complicated composition—parts of the very same tarp that they suspend. 

Often, Green’s experiments with canvas shape and perspective are inspired by popular illusions like the Necker Cube. Other times, Green generates works out of Einsteinian thought experiments. “My recent work had its beginnings in the mid-1980s,” he said, “when I first got interested in trying to simultaneously represent all six sides of a cube.” 

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In more recent work, like Containment Vessel (2015), Green doubles down on his layered illusions. The canvas is awash in his trademark suggestive shapes and patterns—hardwood grain, limbs, household objects, flames, and painted fingernails. Unsatisfied with the visual complexity of these competing forms, Green set this gravityless matrix of mysterious images behind what looks like a Celtic knot formed from transparent, colored jewels. 

Born in Frankfort, Indiana in 1941, Art Green first rose to prominence in 1966, when he joined five other recent Art Institute graduates (Jim Falconer, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca, and Karl Wirsum) for the first of a series of group exhibitions called the Hairy Who. In 1969, he accepted a teaching position at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, and that same year married Natalie Novotny, whose Art Institute education in pattern and fabric design became a strong influence on his work. They eventually settled in Stratford, Ontario, where he taught at the University of Waterloo from 1977 to 2006.

More recently, Green’s work was featured in What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to Present (2014, RISD Museum, Providence); Homegrown: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Permanent Collection (2015–2016, Art Institute of Chicago); The Next Generation: Chicago Imagists from the Smart Collection (2016, Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago); and Hairy Who? 1966–1969 (2018–2019, Art Institute of Chicago).

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Green’s paintings are featured in the collections of major museums around the world, including: the Art Institute of Chicago; the Smart Museum of Art, the University of Chicago; the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Wisconsin; the Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.

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Thumb-Show Thumbnails

Second Sight, 1986

Oil on canvas mounted to panel

25 3/4 x 22 3/4 inches

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Near Distance, 2011

Oil on canvas over panel

46 x 27 1/2 inches

Inquire

Containment Vessel, 2015

Oil on canvas over panel

60 3/4 x 45 3/4 inches

Inquire

Second Sight, 1986

Oil on canvas mounted to panel

25 3/4 x 22 3/4 inches

Near Distance, 2011

Oil on canvas over panel

46 x 27 1/2 inches

Containment Vessel, 2015

Oil on canvas over panel

60 3/4 x 45 3/4 inches

Garth Greenan Gallery is pleased to represent Art Green.

Art Green: Soft Serve will be available to view online, through May 31, 2021. For more information, please contact Garth Greenan at (212) 929-1351, or email info@garthgreenan.com.