b. 1939, USA

Peter Alexander Biography

Peter Alexander was a southern Californian sculptor and painter associated with the Light and Space movement of the 1960s, which also included artists like Larry Bell and Robert Irwin. His delicately coloured works examine the perception of space and the optical effects of light.

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Early Life

Originally trained in Pennsylvania and London to be an architect, Alexander received a BFA and MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in the mid-1960s.

Artworks

Resin Block sculptures

Alexander is renowned for his cast-resin block sculptures, which include Small Cloud Box (1966) and Pink Blue Cube (1967). These sculptures depict the atmospheric conditions of microcosmic 'rooms' and nebulous twinkling sunlight with flashes of iridescence. His use of cast-resin grew out of his love of surfing and its necessary board maintenance. He discovered the potential of cast-resin to explore the transient effects of light in a fixed and solid form, especially when sanded and striation-free.

'Leaners', 'Wedges', and 'Needles'

Evolving from the blocks, in the mid- to late-1960s Alexander began producing precise, sharp-edged, vertical sculptures, such as the 'Needle' series. Growing taller, clearer, and freestanding, they lost their saturated colour as the ends got thinner, 'dematerialising' at their tips and appearing to dissolve into the gallery air. Examples include Untitled (1966—1968) and Window (1969).

Other vertical works included 'Leaners', which leaned against the wall and had stronger colour at the top, fading as the form descended.

End of Resin

At a certain point, the toxicity of the translucent polyester resin started to worry Alexander and so in 1972, after it badly affected his health, he stopped. He began to paint on canvas, and then engaged with drawing and printmaking. In 2006 he remade some damaged sculpture, switching to urethane which, unlike polyester, was safer and did not subtly affect the hue.

'Sunsets'

In Peter Alexander's 'Sunset' works from 1975, sparkly glitter, patterned fabric, beads, and sparkles were stitched onto unstretched velvet by Clytie, Alexander's wife. Ostensibly the artist's reaction against excessive textual infatuation in the art world, the 'Sunset' series also references his early meteorological sculptures of the 1960s, and interest in life in the depths of the sea. They explore deep space and evanescent light pictorially, using perspective.

Between 1988 and 1995, Alexander painted a haunting series of glowing aerial vistas depicting grids of airport runway lights, L.A. traffic, and riot fires—brooding nocturnal images that disturb.

Later Work

In blurry square reliefs like Violet Puff (2014) and Untitled (Red Puff) (2015), the organic, round-cornered, urethane forms hang off the wall, making the fuzzy marks seem embedded in the air itself. Made from coloured urethane poured into long moulds, another late series included glowing wall-relief works of grouped vertical bands like My Cup of Tea (2019) and Makes Your Mouth Water (2020).

Public Commissions

In 2003, a striking 48-foot-long mural, Blue, was commissioned by Frank Gehry for the Walt Disney Concert Hall. It featured acrylic washes of turquoise blue mingled with clusters of hovering orange particles.

Exhibitions

Alexander has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions and group exhibitions. Solo exhibitions include Peter Alexander: Early Works, 1965—1972, Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York (2021); Color, Brian Gross, San Francisco (2018); The LAX Paintings, Peter Blake Gallery, Laguna Beach (2017); Peter Alexander, Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, Los Angeles (2016); Let There Be Light, Revisited, Gazelli Art House, London (2015); and Survey 1970—2010, Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica (2011).

Recent group exhibitions include Bending Light, Pace Gallery, Seoul (2020); Santa Monica: Now and Then, bG Gallery, Santa Monica (2019); WATER AND LIGHT, Ochi Projects, Ketchum (2018); The Cool School in Barcelona, Andrew Weiss Gallery, Santa Monica (2015); and Phenomenal: California Light Space Surface, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2011).

Peter Alexander's work is represented in major collections around the world, including Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis; and Lannan Art Collection, Palm Beach.

Website

Peter Alexander's website can be found here.

John Hurrell | Ocula | 2021

Peter Alexander Featured Artworks

View All (21)
Fresh as a Daisy by Peter Alexander contemporary artwork sculpture
Peter Alexander Fresh as a Daisy, 2019 Urethane
195.6 x 127 x 5.1 cm
Pace Gallery
9/13/19 Grey Green Box by Peter Alexander contemporary artwork sculpture
Peter Alexander 9/13/19 Grey Green Box, 2019 Urethane
17.8 x 20.3 x 20.3 cm
Pace Gallery
Cream of the Crop by Peter Alexander contemporary artwork sculpture
Peter Alexander Cream of the Crop, 2018 Urethane
195.6 x 304.8 x 3.2 cm
Pace Gallery
5-13-15 (Glow Lime Leaner) by Peter Alexander contemporary artwork sculpture
Peter Alexander 5-13-15 (Glow Lime Leaner), 2015 Urethane
248.9 x 10.8 x 8.9 cm
Pace Gallery
4-22-16 (Pink Leaner) by Peter Alexander contemporary artwork sculpture
Peter Alexander 4-22-16 (Pink Leaner), 2016 Urethane
242.6 x 11.4 x 8.3 cm
Pace Gallery
1/26/13 (Turquoise Bar) by Peter Alexander contemporary artwork sculpture
Peter Alexander 1/26/13 (Turquoise Bar), 2013 Urethane
192 x 16 x 6 cm
Gazelli Art House Contact Gallery
11/5/14 Ruby Box by Peter Alexander contemporary artwork mixed media
Peter Alexander 11/5/14 Ruby Box, 2014 Urethane
13 x 18.5 x 18.5 cm
Gazelli Art House Contact Gallery
3/6/15 (Flo Yellow Leaner) by Peter Alexander contemporary artwork sculpture
Peter Alexander 3/6/15 (Flo Yellow Leaner), 2015 Urethane
238 x 12.7 x 5.71 cm
Gazelli Art House Contact Gallery

Peter Alexander Current & Recent Exhibitions

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