Alan Shields, ‘Punk’, 1974, ICI Annual Benefit & Auction 2016
Alan Shields, ‘Punk’, 1974, ICI Annual Benefit & Auction 2016

Inspired by Buckminster Fuller, socio-political protests, and anti-war activism in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Alan Shields embraced unconventional sculptural forms and craft while making paintings with multiple viewpoints to offer rich and complex works for the viewer. This two-sided work is made of bands of silk-screened recycled paper that form overlapping grids creating a dense and brightly colored pattern. Shield’s work was prominently featured in the ICI exhibition High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting 1967-1975 curated by Katy Siegel.

Alan Shields is represented in numerous collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Parrish Art Museum, the Walker Art Center and the Tate Collection in London.

The Alan Shields Estate is represented by Van Doren Waxter, New York.


Image rights: Anonymous gift in honor of Nina Sundell and Susan Sollins

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