Cheim & Read is pleased to present Milton Resnick: Paintings 1954 - 1957. The show opens on October 26 and runs through December 17 at the gallery’s uptown location, 23 East 67th Street in New York. This is the gallery’s fourth solo exhibition with the artist; the first was in 2008, A Question of Seeing: Paintings 1958–1963.
In BW and Alice, both from 1957 and on view in this exhibition, Resnick combines thick black lines, muscular shapes, and brooding color to create the building blocks of rich, jagged abstractions. They are strongly related to Low Gate, 1957, which is now in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Two other works, Untitled, 1956, and Freehold, also from 1957, attest to the fecundity of that year with their viscous, swirling brushstrokes and eruptive bursts of velvety blacks and greys interrupted by glowing reds and blues.
Despite their density and heaviness, these powerful forms seem to float freely across the surface, simultaneously solid and open. There is a sense of catharsis here, coursing through the artist’s brushwork. Shortly after this period, Resnick’s paintings would open up completely into the fields of paint that occupied him for the next three decades, as we see in examples such as Burning Bush, 1959, in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
These paintings were made during a burst of activity and critical success. The artist’s first solo museum exhibition opened at the de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco in September 1955. In November of that same year, he opened his first New York solo show at Poindexter Gallery. These exhibitions were rewarded with a feature story in ARTnews magazine in December 1957.
Before he turned twenty in the late 1930s, Resnick was already deeply rooted with the circle of New York painters who would become known as the Abstract Expressionists. Resnick completed a stint at the WPA Federal Art Project before he was drafted into the US Army, where he served in World War II. Resnick moved back to New York after two years in Paris where he studied at the Académie Julian under the GI Bill and met Giacometti and Brancusi.
In 1948, Resnick plunged back into New York’s artist community and rented a studio on East 8th Street near Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline. A regular attendee of the artists’ meetings at the Waldorf Cafeteria, he became a founding member of the 8th Street Club when it formed in 1949. He was deeply involved with the American Artists Studio and represented it at the students’ wing of the Artists’ Union, where he met and became involved with Elaine Fried (who would later be known as Elaine de Kooning). Resnick remained a formidable presence in the 1950s and 60s in the “Club” and was esteemed as an Ab-Ex veteran.
Milton Resnick (born 1917 Bratslav, Ukraine; died 2004 New York City) immigrated to the United States in 1922. Resnick’s work is represented in public collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the National Gallery, Ottawa, Canada; the Australian National Gallery, Canberra; the Malmö Konsthall, Stockholm; and the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, among others. Recent solo exhibitions include Mana Contemporary, Jersey City (2014), Miguel Abreu (2018), and Cheim & Read, New York (2008, 2011, 2018, and 2021). In 2018, the Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation opened to the public in the artist’s final studio, a former synagogue at 87 Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, with the retrospective exhibition Milton Resnick: Paintings 1937-1987.