New York – Hollis Taggart is pleased to present Knox Martin: Garden of Time, an exhibition showcasing works inspired by nature across more than five decades of artist Knox Martin’s career. The presentation includes paintings, works on paper and two of Martin’s rarely exhibited multimedia sculptures, highlighting both the diversity of his practice and the range of ways the 98-year-old artist has engaged and interpreted his experiences of the natural world. Garden of time will be on view from January 6 to February 5, 2022 at Hollis Taggart’s Chelsea, at 521 W. 26th Street.
Martin has long been a force in the New York art scene. He studied with Harry Sternberg, Will Barnet and Morris Kantor at the Art Students League (1946-50), where he later became an influential teacher for generations of artists. His colleagues included Wilhelm de Kooning and Franz Kline, the latter helping Martin secure his first solo exhibition in 1954 with the prestigious Charles Egan Gallery. Over the course of seven decades, Martin continued to innovate, forging his own path in the art world through an array of public art commissions, including several mural projects in New York City, and numerous exhibitions at the United States and abroad. Garden of time offers a dynamic insight into how nature – be it bouquets of flowers, expansive landscapes, or just its expressive power – has served as an important starting point in Martin’s work through time and continues to offer fertile ground for new explorations.
The exhibition takes its title from Martin’s painting of the same name from 1963, which captures his characteristic style. The canvas features sharp-edged shapes that meet and overlap with flat shapes and stripes of pastel-colored fields and aggressive line and dot patterns. Although the work does not openly refer to nature, it sums up Martin’s interest in his explosive capacity and his ability to evoke strong emotional sensations. A similar approach can also be seen in later works such as the paper work. Event Horizon (Bouquet of the Sea) (1980) and painting Star flowers (2015). In a later painting, I’m yours (2020), Martin conveys a more intimate connection to nature, with a flattened landscape that suggests that the sun and the earth come together as an inextricable whole to which it also belongs. Art historian Martin Fox describes I’m yours as “a touching symbol of life and growth” in his catalog essay for the exhibition.
Garden of time also presents two sculptures in mixed media: Chat and Dogs by Picasso (both in 1995). Although Martin rarely exhibited his sculptural works, he produced them in wood, metal, stone, and other materials throughout his career. In these works, which belong to a series of sculptures referencing the natural world, Martin’s passionate involvement with the universe around him and his ongoing study of the lineage of art is evident. For example, Picasso’s Les Chiens is inspired by a photograph of dachshunds in Picasso’s studio. Carved from wood and painted, the sculpture pays homage to the nature of dogs and the sculptural possibilities of Cubism. The exhibition ends chronologically with a watercolor that Martin painted this year (2021) of a cluster of tomatoes, capturing his artistic work in progress.
Born in Barranquilla, Colombia in 1923, Knox Martin moved to New York in 1927. Since his first solo exhibition in 1954, solo exhibitions of Martin’s work have been shown widely in the United States and abroad, especially in France, England, Switzerland, Canada, Spain and Germany. His work has also been included in major group presentations, such as Some Paintings to Consider (Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California, 1964), Concrete Expressionism (New York University, New York, 1965), Large Scale American Paintings (Jewish Museum, New York, 1967), the Whitney Annual (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1967 and 1972), Synthetic Realism (Gremillion & Co. Fine Art Inc., Houston, 1986), Knox Martin: A Painting Exhibition Spanning a Number of Years (Lighthouse Museum, Tequesta, Florida, 1999), Pan American Modernism: Avant-Garde Art in Latin America and the United States (Lowe Art Museum, Miami, 2013), The Masters: Art Student League Teachers and their Students (The Art Students League of New York, 2018), and more recently Knox Martin: Living Legend (Arlington Museum of Art, Arlington, TX, 2020). Martin’s work is housed in more than 40 museums and private collections around the world. He has received prestigious scholarships and awards, most recently the Benjamin West Clinedinst Memorial Award and the French Legion of Honor. Martin has also had distinguished careers in art education, including his years at the Yale Graduate School of the Arts, New York University, University of Minnesota, and the Art Students League of New York. York.