Alan Shields, ‘Lonely Night’, 1969, Alpha 137 Gallery
Alan Shields, ‘Lonely Night’, 1969, Alpha 137 Gallery
Alan Shields, ‘Lonely Night’, 1969, Alpha 137 Gallery

Mixed media collage multiple, pencil signed, dated and numbered from the limited edition of only 100. Rare 1960s print; in vintage frame; ready to hang.
Sheet: 18.875"H x 18"W;
Frame: 27.5"H x 26.5"W
Alan Shields pushes the boundaries of what defines a print. He came of age artistically in the late 1960s in New York. Expanding the boundaries of Minimalism, he became known as a master of aesthetic invention through his wide-ranging exploration of materials and techniques. His mixed media works often contain combinations of traditional silkscreen processes combined with found materials, as in this colorful relief with handmade paper construction. This is a rare printer's proof, aside from a very small edition of 20, which the publisher sold out long ago. Each work is handmade, with unique variations.

Shields died in 2005 and has since been ripe for rediscovery. In recent years, Shields' work has been exhibited by Van Doren Waxter, and he was the subject of a major exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum. In 2013, Paula Cooper Gallery inaugurated her 10th Avenue exhibition space with a major Alan Shields exhibition.

New York Times critic Roberta Smith wrote in her 2005 obituary for the artist: "Mr. Shields's work combined expanses of gorgeous stained color, reminiscent of Helen Frankenthaler's canvases, with the humbler crafts and a Gypsy sense of portability." Critic Robert Hughes has described Shields as a brilliant bricoleur who could, and often did, make art out of just about anything. He became an innovative printmaker, experimenting with handmade paper and turning out editions in which each print was unique. After his passing, Shields was awarded a Judith Rothschild Foundation grant given to recently deceased abstract artists whose work is of the highest quality but merits further recognition.

Signature: Signed and dated in pencil lower left; numbered in pencil lower right recto (front); also bears publishers' distinctive blind stamp. In vintage wooden frame.

About Alan Shields

A prominent and idiosyncratic figure in the New York art world of the 1970s, Alan Shields made vibrant collages from scraps of cloth, un-stretched canvas, rope, beads, wood, and pipe cleaners, staining the stitched and woven surfaces of his three-dimensional paintings with dye. Shields grew up on a farm in Kansas, where he learned to sew from his mother and sisters, later employing the skill in his machine-stitched, textile-like works. Speaking of his wide range of materials, he once said, “It’s just like farming. It’s good to rotate crops. It’s good to change media.” His compositions sometimes feature psychedelic coloring and recurring characters, such as Worm, an alter ego for Shields represented by a strip of fabric waving across the canvas; or imagery that evokes non-Western cultures, such as mandalas and constellations. He also produced prints and experimented with jewelry, animation, sculpture, and—influenced by Buckminster Fuller—built spherical or tepee-like structures. He is considered a forerunner to contemporary artists such as Jessica Stockholder, Jim Drain, and John Bock.

American, 1944-2005, Herington, Kansas, based in New York, New York

Solo Shows

Cherry and Martin, 
Los Angeles,

Fair History on Artsy

Owen James Gallery at The Editions/Artists’ Books (E/AB) Fair