• Dana Gordon More pictures
  • Dana Gordon More pictures
  • Dana Gordon
  • BORN :  1944
  • NATIONALITY : American
  • LIVES AND WORKS IN : USA

Dana Gordon

BORN :  1944 NATIONALITY : American LIVES AND WORKS IN : USA

Dana Gordon is an American abstract painter whose work for many years has explored playful shapes, and vivid colors to display an exuberant abstractionAs a multidisciplinary artist, Gordon also writes about art, has designed sets for opera and dance, and, in the period 1968-78, made avant-garde films as well as paintings.

He lives and works in New York City.

EARLY YEARS AND EDUCATION

The artist was born in 1944 in Boston. As a child, he was very close to his maternal grandfather who was a Talmudic scholar and in whom the young Gordon found a loving spirituality. Gordon moved with his family to Chicago when he was only five. His mother introduced him to the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, while his father, a scientist who played the piano, exposed him to classical music and jazz. Growing up with an awareness of the city’s amazing buildings, Gordon was tempted to become an architect.

Dana Gordon painted as a child and took courses at the Art Institute of Chicago. Although his parents encouraged his appreciation of art throughout his childhood, when he decided, while in college, to become an artist, they turned totally against it, but he didn’t change his decision.  Dana earned his BA in art from Brown University, Providence in 1966, and his MA in art from Hunter College, New York in 1969. 

 

best life series of 2013 and 2015 chosen by people in 2011Show at Andre Zarre Gallery, 2014, photo credits of the artist

 

TECHNIQUE

Early in his career, Gordon produced shaped, three-dimensional canvases for about ten years. But in the mid-1970s, he "started over" (as he puts it), re-exploring painting directly from its most basic components, using mark-making and line as his main vehicle or entry point. 

The results, from series to series, have sometimes leaned more to linearity, other times to clusters of marks, and still other times to the shapes that were delineated. The qualities of lines and calligraphy varied across a whole range, from infinitely thin pencil lines (edges of shapes) to very broad brushstrokes, wide enough to be shapes themselves.

In his 2010-2014 paintings, the line has become the edge of shapes, providing distinct areas for full expression of color.  Gordon also thinks of the single shapes, adjoining shapes, and clusters of shapes as little paintings in themselves, within the larger whole painting. 

In his practice, the artist doesn’t use earth colors or black, but only spectral colors creating clear, specific and strong artworks. Asked about his approach to color, Gordon said: "A painter needs pure color like a composer needs pure precise tones." 

INSPIRATION AND INFLUENCES

When asked about his inspirations, the artist said, "I'm inspired by all my experiences and observations, by people, cities, landscapes and art, to make abstract paintings that are as full, rich, complete and meaningful as the great master paintings of the past. I want my art to provoke deep feeling and thought, as well as pleasure and joy.  Essentially it asks, and answers, two questions: what does it feel like to be alive, and what is art."

Dana Gordon was immersed in an artistic environment during his youth, visiting the Art Institute of Chicago many times. However, the early epiphany that made him comprehend creativity emerged from jazz clubs visited in his teens: hearing and seeing the improvisations of Miles Davis and John Coltrane was, as Gordon says, "to be inside the creative thinking of artistic geniuses in real time, while they did it."

Living in downtown Manhattan in the late 1960s, Gordon was surrounded by a concentrated and very lively art world. During his studies in painting and sculpture at Hunter College, his teachers were such artists as Tony Smith, George Sugarman, Ad Reinhardt, and Ralph Humphrey, among others. Additionally, he worked for Smith (1968-69) and Sugarman (1967) as assistant in their studios. 

Dana was attracted to and inspired by their practice because they exemplified complete seriousness and dedication in art, as well as the highest level of artistic achievement. At the same time, he became friends with the painter Alice Neel, an equally serious and accomplished artist with a somewhat different view of art and the art world. 

He worked at MoMA for about a year where he could examine some of the most important works of modern art at length. Later, Gordon worked at the Honolulu Museum of Art where he studied its collection of Chinese landscape and Zen painting.

Dana Gordon’s compositions evoke somewhat Orphism Cubism and are kaleidoscopic and contemplative. When painting, Gordon is interested in the visual conversation between colors, shapes and lines.

This understanding of art is found not only in his paintings but likewise in essays he wrote for various publications about one of his inspirations, the artist Camille Pissarro. 

About Pissarro, Gordon wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2007, "Pissarro is popularly known as the first Impressionist.  But in his own lifetime he was known for doing more.  He was, in essence, the first abstract artist.  He showed that painting’s basic qualities — colors, brushstrokes, materiality, lines, shapes, composition—were meaningful in their own right, and transformed paint into purely visual poetry."

 

best series of life works made between 2013 and 2016Show at Andre Zarre Gallery, 2014, photo credits of the artist

 

DANA GORDON STATEMENT

"One is faced with existential questions every time one starts to work on a painting, which is ultimately what makes it worth looking at, and doing. In general, I try to let everything I have experienced affect my painting. And then let the process sort itself out. The process is like a conversation (often an argument) with the painting and it's both mental and physical.

Painting is a comprehensive and open-ended visual language of intellectual, psychological, and emotional expression. (Its essence is truly visual, nothing at all narrative, literary, academic, theoretical, or political.)

Historically abstraction derives from all forms of art, but fundamentally it also underlies them.  Abstract form comprises our view of nature and is found in all of nature."

RELEVANT QUOTES

James Panero, executive editor of the New Criterion, has been reviewing Gordon’s exhibitions for years and says about his work: 

“Dana Gordon has been working through a particular abstract construction that positions a color form within a grid. While many artists paint widely, Gordon paints deeply. He has been singularly dedicated to understanding the possibilities of this particular idiom.The gradual evolution of his work has become an art project in itself. I can think of few artists who are as thoughtful in examining the building blocks of oil on canvas (…) Rather than exhaust a simple language; Gordon has demonstrated how a few basic elements can captivate us with a kaleidoscope of visual interest

For further commentary -- reviews, essays, excerpts, etc. -- on Dana Gordon's art by well-known art critics and artists, dating back to 1982, please click here.

 

series of works made between 2011 and 2016Show at Andre Zarre Gallery, 2014, photo credits of the artist

 

NOTABLE DISTINCTIONS

He is the recipient of several grants and fellowships including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Edward Albee Foundation, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and other. In 1980, he received a grant from Change, Inc., Robert Rauschenberg's foundation. 

EXHIBITIONS

Since the mid-1970s, Dana Gordon has widely exhibited in one-man and group shows, mostly on the US East Coast. His first New York solo show was on display at the Ericson Gallery on Madison Avenue in 1982. His exhibitions have been reviewed in many notable magazines and publications including the New York Times. 

COLLECTIONS

Gordon's work is featured in public and private collections nationally as well as internationally, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Philip Morris Corp and the American College of Greece.

GALLERIES

Andre Zarre Gallery, NYC
Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn

 

ARTWORKS