IN MEMORIUM | WATER DARBY BANNARD (1934-2016)| RECENT PAINTINGS OPENS AT BERRY CAMPBELL
NEW YORK, NEW YORK, OCTOBER 6, 2016 – With great sadness, Berry Campbell announced the death of Walter Darby Bannard last Sunday, October 2, 2016. A leading figure in the development of Color Field Painting in the late 1950s and an important American abstract painter, Walter Darby Bannard (better known as Darby Bannard) was committed to color-based and expressionist abstraction for over six decades. Berry Campbell gallery in conjunction with Bannard have been collaborating on an exhibition of his recent paintings for the last six months. We are pleased to present 15 of Bannard’s recent paintings, some of which of are large scale. Please join us in honor of Walter Darby Bannard and in celebration of his latest paintings on Thursday, October 13 from 6 to 8pm. The exhibition will run through November 12, 2016.
In his most recent, and now last paintings, Bannard increased the intensity and juxtaposition of color. The more neutral backgrounds of the past have shifted to all-over color. The surfaces of the paintings are flat and three-dimensional all at once: hot pink and fluorescent green geometric shapes appear to float above and protrude from the flat canvas. These circles reference earlier days, but added now are hard-edge trapezoids. Flat areas of color are spiked by splatters of sparkly gels and raised areas of large sweeping brush-work creating a dance across the surface. Methods and techniques from prior paintings are combined and used in unison in these dynamic compositions. In these last paintings, Bannard painted with an increased vigor creating large-scale paintings up to thirteen feet wide.
Bannard was born in 1934 in New Haven, Connecticut. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and in 1956 graduated from Princeton University. Bannard, who made drawings and watercolors throughout his youth, was self-taught as a painter. He derived inspiration for his earliest paintings from the art of William Baziotes, Theodoros Stamos, and Clyfford Still. In a 2015 interview with Franklin Einspruch for Artcritical.com, Bannard states, “That’s how it is with abstract painting, it just takes you over. I remember looking at one of these little intellectual magazines when I was sixteen and I saw a de Kooning painting, and thought, wow, that’s really cool.” By the late 1950s, he abandoned the sensitivity inherent in the expressionistic style, instead creating austere minimal paintings characterized by large areas of contrasting color.
During his undergraduate years at Princeton University, he joined fellow students, the painter Frank Stella and the critic and art historian Michael Fried in conversations that expanded aesthetic definitions and led to an emphasis on opticality as the defining feature of pictorial art. Bannard continued to explore attributes of color, paint, and surface through innovative methods, striving throughout his career for vital and original expressive means. He was an important writer on formalist issues in art, serving as an editor for Artforum and a contributor to Art International. His extensive publications date from the 1960s to the present. In the early 1990s, Bannard moved to Miami. He served as professor and head of painting at the University of Miami, Coral Gables for over 25 years.
Bannard was one of the first artists to blend artist’s materials with commercially produced tinted alkyd resin house paints in a search for greater color options. In a 2015 Artforum review of his second solo exhibition at Berry Campbell, Phyllis Tuchman discusses these early paintings: “The bands, circles, and rectangles tend to be shiny and reflect light, while the other parts of these canvases are covered with matte paint. Bannard mixed pinks and beiges as well as light blues and greens with lots of white. These colors are still radiant. And the artist’s pale palette is as uniquely personal today as it was fifty years ago. You can’t even apply a name to his hues.”
In 1964, Bannard was included in the landmark exhibition, “Post-Painterly Abstraction,” organized by Clement Greenberg and held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His first solo exhibitions were in 1965, at Kasim Gallery, London; Richard Feigen Gallery, Chicago; and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York. He was also included that year in the Museum of Modern Art’s, “The Responsive Eye.” In 1968, Bannard received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and a National Foundation of the Arts Award.
In about 1970, Bannard’s focus shifted to an exploration of the liquid quality of paint. Drawn to the new acrylic mediums that were becoming available, he began working on the floor using thick gel surfaces and color suspended in Magna or polymer mediums. At the time, he “thought of color as a liquid, flowing over and settling on a roughened surface, changing as it mixed and dried.” His method involved stapling his canvases to slightly raised wooden platforms. After tightly sizing his canvases, he scraped on colored gel with squeegee-like tools. When the surface was dry, he poured colored polymer over it in layers, allowing the paint to find its place. He was drawn at the time to close-valued rather than strong colors and often allowed his pale warm grounds to serve as colors in their own right rather than acting as supports for other colors. Karen Wilkin stated in Color as Field (2007): “Bannard probed just how subtle chromatic nuances could be before they became unbroken expanse. In these pictures, even composition could be reduced to a kind of near-negative, an echo of something no longer there.” In the late 1970s, Bannard was instrumental in the retrospective exhibition of the work of Hans Hofmann. He curated the 1976-77 exhibition and wrote the catalogue that accompanied it.
During a painting workshop in Saskatchewan Canada in 1981, Bannard developed a kind of gel “drawing” on canvas, in which he applied his paint on large sheets of fiberglass. By the middle of the decade, he returned to a slower, more subtle system of marking his gel, while also returning to pouring colored polymer. He also reincorporated expressionist methods in his art. In 1987, he began his “brush and cut” paintings, consisting of large scale canvases in which he applied transparent tinted gel with large street brooms and industrial floor squeegees to make painted “drawings,” featuring vigorous brushwork and three-dimensional illusions. After moving to Miami, he incorporated more color into his large paintings, while producing small mixed-media “landscapes” on paper, inspired by the flat land and water and the lowering sun of the Florida Everglades.
Throughout his career, Bannard moved between the poles of Expressionism and Color Field Painting, resulting in a body of art that constantly evolved as the artist has forthrightly faced the situations that his art presented, reacting to them with vigor and intuition.
In 1983, Bannard held an Invitational Residency at the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to his position at the University of Miami, he taught at many art schools, including the School of Visual Art, New York. Over the course of his career, Bannard has had almost one hundred solo exhibitions and he was included in an even greater number of group shows. In 2016, noted art historian, Barbara Rose, curated a major exhibition for Roberto Polo Gallery in Brussels, Belgium entitled, “Post-Painterly Abstraction: Belgium-USA” featuring paintings by sixteen US and Belgian artists including Walter Darby Bannard, Ed Moses and Larry Poons.
Bannard is represented in public collections across the country as well as abroad. A selection of his museum collections include Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio; Baltimore Museum, Maryland; Blanton Museum of Art, The University at Texas, Austin; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Cleveland Museum, Ohio; Dallas Museum of Fine Art, Texas; Dayton Art Institute, Ohio; Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta, Canada; Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Honolulu Museum, Hawaii; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana; Kenyon College Art Gallery, Ohio; Larry Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut; Lowe Art Museum, Coral Gables, Florida; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Victoria, Australia; New Jersey State Museum, Trenton; Newark Museum, New Jersey; Portland Art Museum, Oregon; Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey; Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, New York; the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Berry Campbell continues to fill an important gap in the downtown art world, showcasing the work of prominent and mid-career artists. The owners, Christine Berry and Martha Campbell, share a curatorial vision of bringing new attention to the works of a selection of postwar and contemporary artists and revealing how these artists have advanced ideas and lessons in powerful and new directions. Other artists and estates represented by the gallery are Edward Avedisian, Walter Darby Bannard, Stanley Boxer, Eric Dever, Perle Fine, Balcomb Greene, Gertrude Greene, John Goodyear, Ken Greenleaf, Raymond Hendler, Jill Nathanson, Stephen Pace, Charlotte Park, William Perehudoff, Ann Purcell, Albert Stadler, Mike Solomon, Syd Solomon, Susan Vecsey, James Walsh, and Joyce Weinstein.
Berry Campbell Gallery is located in the heart of the Chelsea Arts District at 530 West 24th Street, Ground Floor, New York, NY 10011. www.berrycampbell.com. For information, please contact Christine Berry or Martha Campbell at 212.924.2178 or firstname.lastname@example.org.