Art Department

Stephen E. Ostrow Distinguished Visitors

APRIL 10, 2003

Expanding Universe: The Recent Paintings of Al Held will be on display at Reed College's Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery; this exhibition, will feature bold, large-format acrylic paintings and smaller-scale watercolors by abstract artist Al Held, who has been a major figure in American art for more than five decades.
Al Held will be presenting a slide lecture about his work at 7 p.m. in Reed's Vollum lecture hall as a Stephen Ostrow Distinguished Visitor in the Visual Arts. The Cooley Gallery will be open before the lecture, and a reception will follow the lecture.

Although Al Held's work was linked to color field painting and minimalism in the 1960s, he has always maintained an independent course. The recent works in this exhibition focus on Held's concerns of color, shape, and volumetric space. His meticulously crafted canvases reflect his interest in complex scientific theories such as chaos and cosmic strings, exploring ideas of unmeasurable light and space and the world beyond our senses. These works raise questions about the interplay of the human hand and imagination with more formal ordering systems and spatial structures. While his early work has been extensively exhibited, Expanding Universe is the first traveling exhibition to document the artist's paintings of the past decade.

Al Held was born in Brooklyn in 1928 and received his education at the Art Student's League in New York and the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, Paris. He served on the faculty of Yale University from 1962 to 1980. He was named a fellow of the American Academy in Rome in 1981, and since 1982 has served on its board of directors. Held was the recipient of the Logan medal from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1964, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1966, and the Jack and Lillian Poses Creative Arts Award from Brandeis University in 1983; he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1984.

Since the late 1950s Held has had nearly annual solo shows at galleries in New York, at the Poindexter Gallery, Andre Emmerich Gallery, and Robert Miller Gallery, as well as numerous solo exhibitions worldwide. Among the even more numerous group exhibitions in which his work has been included are nine Whitney Annuals and Biennials, the Corcoran Annual, the Art Institute of Chicago Annual, the Pittsburgh International, and Post Painterly Abstraction, a famous exhibition curated by Clement Greenberg at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1964. He was given a mid-career retrospective by the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1974. His work is in the collections of many public institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Expanding Universe: The Recent Paintings of Al Held was organized by David S. Rubin, curator of visual arts, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans.

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