In the February issue of Art in America, Frances Colpitt writes about the Blanton Museum’s show, “Reimaging Space,” which featured abstract paintings and sculptures created by the Park Place Group artists. Intrigued by the article, which featured several artists I’ve never heard of, and drawn to the installation images, particularly those of Mark di Suvero’s sculptures (at left, “The A Train,” 1965-67), I looked up the exhibition online. It turns out, between 1963 and 1967, the testosterone-y Park Place Gallery group included sculptors Mark di Suvero, Peter Forakis, Robert Grosvenor, Anthony Magar, Forrest Myers (omg–he made the huge tourquoise and purple exterior wall piece at the corner of Houston and Broadway), and painters Dean Fleming, Tamara Melcher (the only woman), David Novros, Edwin Ruda, and Leo Valledor.
Back in the day, the group was at the center of the art world, but their work has largely been ignored in chronicles of 1960s art because their aesthetic was at odds with prevailing styles. The show, which came down at the end of January, examined the impact of this little known but influential cohort.
From the press release:
Park Place artists were united by their multifaceted explorations of space. Their abstract paintings and sculptures, with dynamic geometric forms and color palettes, created optical tension, and were partially inspired by the architecture and energy of urban New York. The group regularly discussed the visionary theories of Buckminster Fuller, Space Age technologies, science fiction, and the psychology of expanded perception, and these ideas become essential to their work. Dean Fleming’s paintings of shifting, contradictory spaces were intended to transform viewers, provoking an expanded consciousness. Di Suvero’s allegiance was to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and his kinetic sculptures explored gravity and momentum in space.”By assembling a selection of major works not seen together since that era—as well as photographs and documents chronicling the group’s activities—this exhibition opens a new window on the art world of the 1960s. In doing so, it reveals the decade to have been a period of much richer artistic possibility than standard art histories suggest. According to Guest Curator Linda Dalrymple Henderson, ‘Reimagining Space’ is meant to ‘encourage new, more subtle readings of the 1960s and to direct attention to the superb Park Place artists who have not received the critical attention they deserve.’
“Reimagining Space: The Park Place Gallery Group in 1960s New York,” curated by Linda Dalrymple Henderson. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin , TX. Through January 18, 2009.