Hollis Taggart is pleased to present Knox Martin: Garden of Time, an exhibition featuring works inspired by nature from across more than five decades of artist Knox Martin's career. The presentation includes paintings, works on paper, and two of Martin's rarely displayed mixed-media sculptures, highlighting both the diversity of his practice and the range of ways the 98-year-old artist has engaged with and interpreted his experiences of the natural world. Garden of Time will be on view 6 January–5 February, 2022, at Hollis Taggart's Chelsea location 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 (1946–1950), where he later became an influential teacher for generations of artists. His colleagues included Wilhelm de Kooning and Franz Kline—the latter of whom helped Martin secure his first solo exhibition in 1954 with the prestigious Charles Egan Gallery. Over the course of seven decades, Martin has continued to innovate, carving his own path within the artworld through an array of public art commissions—including several mural projects in New York City—and numerous exhibitions across the U.S and abroad. Garden of Time provides a dynamic glimpse at the ways in which nature—whether bouquets of flowers, expansive landscapes, or simply its expressive power—has served as an important point of departure in Martin's work through time and continues to offer fertile ground for new explorations.
The exhibition takes its title from Martin's 1963 painting of the same name, which captures his characteristic style. The canvas features sharp-edged forms conjoining and overlapping with flat shapes and swaths of pastel fields of colour and aggressive line and dot patterns. While the work does not overtly reference nature, it encapsulates Martin's interest in its explosive capacity and ability to evoke strong emotional sensations. A similar approach can also be seen in later works such as the work on paper Event Horizon (Bouquet of the Sea) (1980) and the 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 sun and earth reaching for each other as an inextricable whole to which he also belongs. Art historian Martin Fox describes I'm Yours as 'a touching symbol of life and growth' in his catalogue essay for the exhibition.
Garden of Time also features two mixed-media sculptures: Cat and Picasso's Dogs (both 1995). Although Martin has rarely exhibited his sculptural works, he has been producing 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 that surrounds him and his lifelong study of the lineage of art are evident. For example, Picasso's Dogs 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 to the sculptural possibilities of Cubism. The exhibition concludes chronologically with a watercolour that Martin painted this year (2021) of a cluster of tomatoes, capturing his ongoing artistic work.
Born in Barranquilla, Colombia in 1923, Knox Martin moved to New York City in 1927. Since his first solo exhibition in 1954, solo exhibitions of Martin's work have been presented widely both in the US and abroad, including in France, England, Switzerland, Canada, Spain, and Germany. His work has also been included in significant 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), and The Masters: Art Student League Teachers and their Students (The Art Students League of New York, 2018), and most recently Knox Martin: Living Legend (Arlington Museum of Art, Arlington, TX, 2020). Martin's work is held in over 40 museums and private collections worldwide. He has received prestigious grants and awards, including most recently the Benjamin West Clinedinst Memorial Award and the French Legion of Honor. Martin has also led a distinguished career in teaching art, including his years at Yale Graduate School of the Arts, New York University, University of Minnesota, and The Art Students League of New York.
Press release courtesy Hollis Taggart.