David Richard Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings from 1988 to 2011 by Sanford Wurmfeld—the gallery’s first solo exhibition for the New York-based artist.
Sanford Wurmfeld’s paintings immerse the viewer in color and visual sensations. He uses the square as the basic building block, in varying sizes and shapes, in grid patterns and opposing horizontal and vertical gradients to explore the impact of spatial relationships of hues, changes in values and degree of saturation on the psychological and emotional effects of color. The culmination of the increasing complexity of his work and scale of the seminal paintings from the late 1970s—some reaching 30 feet in length, engulfing the viewer and commanding even the peripheral vision—led to purchases by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Guggenheim Museum, New York for their permanent collections. In awe of panoramic paintings, his own work from the 1980s further inspired Wurmfeld to produce his first 360-degree painting, Cyclorama 2000, that truly immersed the viewer in continuous gradients and fields of color. While this exhibition will not include a Cyclorama painting, it will feature a large seminal painting from 1988 that utilized Wurmfeld’s more evolved overlapping and opposing grid system, along with many small and medium-sized works from select series that, in aggregate, produce a panoramic effect. In Wurmfeld’s newest work, painted in 2010 and 2011, he limits the palette and saturation of hues on a black or white ground to produce paintings that appear nearly all black or all white. The complex grid patterns and slow transitions of value provide exceptionally subtle colors that take Wurmfeld’s work to an even higher level of elegance and sophistication. But more important, the vaporous colors beg a greater engagement with the viewer to both verify the existence of color and the method of application.
Born and raised in New York, Sanford Wurmfeld studied art history at Dartmouth and taught himself to paint. Early influences were Abstract Expressionist painters Kline, Pollock, de Kooning and Rothko and then later, Monet. While traveling and living in Europe he saw the exhibition of paintings by Kenneth Noland, Frank Stella and Morris Louis at the Venice Biennale, their art influenced both his interest in and approach to studying color. In 1966 he started the MA program at Hunter College, where he studied with Ray Parker, Tony Smith, Gene Goossen and Ad Reinhardt. After becoming an adjunct faculty member of Hunter College in 1967, he formed close relationships with departmental colleagues Doug Ohlson, Vincent Longo and Robert Swain. In 1968, Goossen included Wurmfeld’s art in The Art Of The Real, 1948-68, an exhibition he curated at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and Wurmfeld had his first solo exhibition that same year at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York. Later, he also had solo exhibitions at the Susan Caldwell Gallery and Denise Rene Gallery. Wurmfeld was appointed Chairman of the Art Department at Hunter College in 1978, where he held that position for 28 years. He also started the Hunter Galleries and was the Director for 20 years. He has had many museum exhibitions, written extensively and contributed his essays to seminal art publications, and his work is included in many private and public international collections.