Mark Greenwold: Secret Storm: Paintings 1967-1975
March 17–April 17, 2010
Panel Discussion: Painting and Sex
Thursday, April 8, 6:30 PM
With Chuck Close, Mark Greenwold, and Lisa Yuskavage
Moderated by Alexi Worth
Beginning March 17, DC Moore Gallery presents Mark Greenwold Secret Storm: Paintings 1967-1975. This provocative exhibition brings together, for the first time, controversial early paintings made between 1967 and 1975, as well as watercolors and drawings from the period. A catalog including an interview with the artist by Alexi Worth accompanies the exhibition.
The six paintings in the show have been virtually un-exhibited, and their overwhelming size, bubblegum palette, and overtly sexual subject matter will surprise even those familiar with Greenwold’s more recent, small-scale paintings of friends and family members in unsettling scenarios.
The paintings betray Greenwold’s early interest in emotionally, psychologically charged subject matter and labor intensive, detail-oriented process. He expended four obsessive years on the 85 x 108 inch painting Bright Promise (1971-75), devoting one year alone to the roughly 1,200 pink, green, blue, and white bedspread pompoms. Greenwold’s subject matter ranges from the intrigues of threesomes to anxieties about being drafted during the Vietnam War. These paintings also serve as aesthetic time capsules of an era, capturing the fashion, architecture, interior design, and even other painting trends of the period.
Contemplating this body of work, Greenwold says, Looking back, I’m not sure how much I was embracing the loucheness, the freeness, the “shvinger” (ie., “swinger”) culture. I used to think of these pictures as almost cautionary tales. But then, paintings always end up seeming celebratory. Especially if you spend a year or more making it, a painting becomes an affirmation.
Greenwold tells Worth in the interview, You want me to own up to the sociology and sexual excess of the seventies. Or indeed to admit that as a repressed mid-westerner I was so completely taken up by the sheer sexual impact of that tsunami moment, that my work was some orgiastic celebration of it, and I’ve been forever after, post-coitally, living in its wake. Both these things are of course true. But to me it’s too simple and tidy a reading.
Exhibitions of Greenwold’s work are rare due to his meticulous, painstaking process. The artist has presented only nine solo exhibitions in the last thirty years, two of which comprised just one painting. His last exhibition, 2007’s A Moment of True Feeling, was a ten-year retrospective numbering only thirteen paintings. The 1995 exhibition Mark Greenwold: The Odious Facts featured a mere twenty-seven paintings, nearly every mature work the artist had produced. Curated by Robert Storr for Colby College Museum of Art, Maine, the exhibition traveled to Neuberger Museum of Art, New York in 1996.
Greenwold's work has been included in a number of group exhibitions, such as Disparities and Deformations, Our Grotesque, SITE Santa Fe's 5th International Biennial Exhibition in 2004. He has also curated several exhibitions, including Endless Love at DC Moore Gallery in 2004 and The Risk of Existence at Phyllis Kind Gallery in 1998.
Greenwold has been the recipient of a number of awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in 1985, the Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome in 1987, two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in 1987 and 1994, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in 1991, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Francis J. Greenburger Foundation in 2001. His work is in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO.