Pat Steir

Pat Steir

Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1938, Pat Steir studied art and philosophy at Boston University and received her BFA from the Pratt Institute in 1962. In 1963, she was invited to participate in her first group show at The High Museum in Atlanta. The next year, her work appeared in group shows at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in The Museum of Modern Art’s Drawing exhibition, making her a key figure among the first wave of women artists to gain prominence in the New York art world.

In the mid-1960s, Steir was appointed an Art Director at Harper and Row Publishing Company in New York. In the early 1970s she taught art at Parsons School of Design, Princeton University, and later at the California Institute of the Arts where Ross Bleckner, David Salle, and Amy Sillman where among her students. She is a founding board member of Printed Matter Bookshop, HERESIES: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics, and Semiotext(e).

Steir was lauded in the early 1970s for her monochromatic canvases featuring various iconographic symbols—most prominently roses, inspired by Shakespeare’s famous aphorism, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” and Gertrude Stein’s retort, “A rose is a rose is a rose”—crossed out with ‘X’ figures. Of this act of effacement, the artist explains, “I wanted to destroy images as symbols. To make the image a symbol for a symbol. I had to act it out―make the image and cross it out.” This series marks the artist’s first engagement with questions of representation and semantic signification. Steir continues to explore these issues, working to unfix the tradition of representation in landscape painting, instead evoking the meaning of landscape without imagery as such.

While she shared an affinity with Sol LeWitt and John Cage, Steir was compelled to search for her own praxis that was both painterly and theoretical. The influence of Conceptual art, French philosophy, and East Asian art and philosophy moved her to begin creating room-size installations in the mid-1970s. Here, the artist formulated alternate worlds and new visions of reality. In these “second realities,” the viewer is entirely encompassed in a dimensional painted realm. These spaces, instead of functioning solely on a perceptual level, are meant to invoke various spatial configurations. Steir is interested in working with “space of any kind—interior space, heart space, movement in space, events in space, mind space, and imaginary space.”

In the late 1970s, Steir traveled extensively in the United States and eventually lived in Europe where numerous galleries regularly presented her work. By 1988, back in New York, Steir began to experiment with pouring and flinging thin layers of white paint onto canvas, releasing herself from conscious consideration of imagery and composition and allowing the indexical trace of her process to become the image itself. While her pouring process invites comparisons to Jackson Pollock, rather than laying her canvases on the floor, Steir paints from a ladder and works directly on unstretched canvas tacked to the studio wall. The delimited chance of this working method has since come to define Steir’s practice. However, rather than wholly abandoning the execution of her paintings to external elements and factors, Steir exercises rigorous control over her technique. This studied and deliberate release of control as an artistic method developed through her study of Japanese and Chinese painting. Steir is deeply inspired by Taoism and Buddhism, and her working methods transcend the divide between figuration and abstraction. Intentionally deviating from the gestural flatness in the work of Pollock and other Abstract Expressionists, Steir instead explores a contemplative condition of unbound perception. In this way, she seeks to both portray and evoke a state of mind: rather than representing the sublimity of a waterfall or seascape, Steir’s paintings become charged spaces of transcendental content.

For five decades, Steir has had an extensive solo exhibition history with American and European museums. Most recently, Drawing Out of Line traveled from the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, to Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York in 2010. In 200, Watershed traveled to the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, and the Des Moines Art Center, among other venues. In 1998 Steir created site-specific installations Likity Split and Ghost Moon Mountain Water for The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, respectively. Other major exhibitions include: The Irish Museum of Modern Art (1996, 1994); Centre National d’art Contemporain de Grenoble (1992); and Musee d’art Contemporain, Lyon, France (1990), among others.

In 1988, Pat Steir Prints 1976-1988 opened at the Cabinet des Estampes, Musee d’art et histoire, Geneva, and traveled to The Tate Gallery, London. The prior year, the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam presented Paintings 1981-1984; The Baltimore Museum of Art hosted Drawing Now: Pat Steir; and Kunstmuseum Bern opened Paintings and Drawings. In 1984, the Brooklyn Museum organized Pat Steir: The Brueghel Series (A Vanitas of Style), an exhibition that traveled to ten museums including the Dallas Museum of Art; Centre d’art Contemporain, Palais Wilson, Geneva; Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA); Des Moines Art Center; and the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands, among other venues. Form Illusion Myth: The Prints and Drawings of Pat Steir opened at the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, in 1983 and traveled to the California State University, Long Beach; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; The Wellesley College Museum; and the Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, Memphis.

Steir’s work has been included in hundreds of group shows and is held in the permanent collections of major museums worldwide including: Denver Art Museum; Fondation Cartier, Paris; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Louvre, Paris; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Tate Gallery, London, among other institutions.

Along with lecturing at museums and universities, Steir is the recipient of several awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1982), as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1976, 1973).

In 1991, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Art from the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, and, in 2001, received the Boston University School for the Arts Distinguished Alumni Award.


Selected Works

  • Dragon Tooth Waterfall
    Oil on canvas
    92 x 132-1/2" (233.7 x 336.6 cm)

  • Elephant Waterfall
    Oil on canvas
    144 x 122" (365.8 x 309.9 cm)

  • Vibrating Blue and Red Waterfall
    Oil on canvas
    48 x 48 inches (121.9 x 121.9 cm)
    © Pat Steir 2016

  • Wind and Water
    Oil on canvas
    108 x 108" (274.3 x 274.3 cm)

  • Two Naples Yellow
    Oil on canvas
    60 x 60 inches (152.4 x 152.4 cm)
    Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein

  • Morning with Red Line in the Middle
    2015 - 2016
    Oil on canvas
    131 x 113 inches (332.7 x 287 cm)
    Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

  • White Moon Abyss
    Oil on canvas
    72 x 72 inches (182.9 x 182.9 cm)
    Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

  • Lila Judith
    2016 - 2017
    Oil on canvas
    133 1/2 x 113 inches (339.1 x 287 cm)
    Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

  • Sweet Grey
    2016 - 2017
    Oil on canvas
    84 x 84 inches (213.4 x 213.4 cm)
    Photo: Tom Powel Imaging



Pat Steir 'For Hong Kong' Series, in Conversation with Mike Hearn of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

March 19, 2018


Museum Exhibitions


Selected Press

T Magazine | My Favorite Artwork | Pat Steir

July 21, 2020

The artist speaks of living in 1970s Amsterdam, where she visited a Rembrandt painting at the city's …

T Magazine | The Rembrandt Self-Portrait That Has Long Captivated Pat Steir

July 21, 2020

Rembrandt van Rijn painted and etched his own image dozens of times over the course of his life, but …

Vogue | In a New Documentary, Pat Steir Speaks for Herself

June 12, 2020

A similar melding of poignant lyricism and piercing inquiry governs Pat Steir: Artist, director Veronica …

ARTnews | Powerful New Pat Steir Documentary Showcases Intrepid Painter’s Rich Mind

June 4, 2020

Over the course of the documentary, which releases on Tuesday for rental on streaming services, the 82-year-old …

Improvised Life | Pat Steir: How To Occupy This Time On Earth

May 4, 2020

Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1938, Pat Steir studied art and philosophy at Boston University and received …

Artforum | Pat Steir

March 3, 2020

For the past year and a half, a beautifully illustrated German book has been sitting like a totem on …

Brooklyn Rail | Pat Steir: Color Wheel

February 9, 2020

"Color Wheel" is an installation of 30 towering canvases that line the circular perimeter wall of the …

The Washington Post | At the Hirshhorn, Pat Steir’s ‘waterfall’ paintings move you — literally

January 23, 2020

The canvases in “Pat Steir: Color Wheel,” featuring 30 of Steir’s distinctive “waterfall paintings,” …

The Art Press Asia | Interview with Pat Steir | How Abstract Art Represent the human mind?

January 8, 2020

As one of the few women who became famous in the New York art world in the 1970s, Steele's paintings …

Galerie Magazine | Look Inside Artist Pat Steir’s Treasure-Filled Townhouse in Greenwich Village

December 21, 2019

The Manhattan home where she has lived for close to three decades is brimming with works by Sol LeWitt, …

WideWalls | New Paintings by Pat Steir Transform the Hirshhorn Into a Color Whee

November 6, 2019

An influential American painter, Pat Steir is known for her eclectic practice influenced by Color Field …

Art Forum | Interviews: Pat Steir

November 6, 2019

Since the late 1980s, Pat Steir has slung her paint from a loaded brush, letting oils arc and flow in …

The Washingtonian | Things to Do in DC This Weekend (October 24-27): World Series Home Games, Modern Love, and Spooky Museum Events

October 28, 2019

MUSEUMS The Hirshhorn will show a collection of 30 colorful paintings by abstract painter Pat Steir starting …

Document Journal | 500 years, 400 artists, and 54 countries: ‘Great Women Artists’ is the most extensive collection of female created art yet

October 25, 2019

Last Thursday, art enthusiasts gathered at The Metropolitan Museum of Art for “An Evening with Great …

Town & Country | At 79, Pat Steir Just Completed Her Largest Installation to Date

October 25, 2019

Ask the painter Pat Steir what she’d like viewers to take away from her work, and she doesn’t immediately …

Artnet | Kiki Smith Wrote Pat Steir a Fan Letter 30 Years Ago. Today, the Artists Reflect on Their Enduring—and Inspiring—Friendship

October 22, 2019

It’s almost remarkable how regularly it happens. You’re speaking to an established person in the …

Garage | Pat Steir Is Reinventing the Color Wheel

October 22, 2019

"All of my work is a search and an experiment,” Pat Steir once said. Born in 1940 and exhibiting since …

DCist | 9 Art Exhibits To Explore In October

October 4, 2019


Barron's | Sotheby’s Auctioning Artworks by Ugo Rondinone and 14 Others to Benefit Cancer Research

October 1, 2019

Led by New York-based Swiss-born artist Ugo Rondinone, 15 contemporary artists have donated their artworks …

Robb Report | Revered Artist Pat Steir Is Reinventing the (Color) Wheel in Her Latest Solo Exhibition

October 1, 2019

Her spectrum of 28 paintings will be on show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden from October …

Artnet | Here Are 23 Outstanding Museum Shows Across the US That You Won’t Want to Miss This Fall

September 6, 2019

For her largest site-specific exhibition to date, Pat Steir will hang 28 large-scale paintings, each …

ArtNews | Gravity’s Rainbow: Hot on the Heels of Key Showcases, Painter Pat Steir Preps Major Washington, D.C. Exhibition

July 30, 2019

Pat Steir began making her remarkable, lush abstract paintings more than 30 years ago. To execute two …

The New York Review of Books | The Flow of Chance: Pat Steir’s ‘Waterfall’ Paintings

May 11, 2019

In Veronica Gonzalez Peña’s fascinating new documentary about the painter Pat Steir, which premiered …

Financial Times | Night of 100 Solos marked Merce Cunningham’s centenary at BAM, New York

April 23, 2019

Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1938, Pat Steir studied art and philosophy at Boston University and received …

Galerie Magazine | 5 Key Works from Pat Steir’s Remarkable Career

March 1, 2019

The artist unveiled a major site-specific commission in Philadelphia, and a second will be installed …

The New Yorker | The Exhibit That Painted Itself

February 3, 2019

“Silent Secret Waterfalls: The Barnes Series” is a continuation of the waterfall series that Steir …

Apollo | ‘The paint makes its own image’ – an interview with Pat Steir

January 22, 2019

Pat Steir is the first artist to make work for the Barnes Foundation since Matisse – and, as she tells …

The New York Times | Pat Steir Gets Discovered, Again

January 18, 2019

Acclaimed (then overlooked) during five decades, the painter hits a new tempo in life and art with a …

Apollo | Pat Steir: Silent Secret Waterfalls

January 10, 2019

The first artist commissioned to make work for the Barnes Foundation since Matisse, Pat Steir has created …

de Young Museum | The Nature of Nature: Pat Steir’s "Black and White One-Stroke Waterfall"

November 9, 2018

Thanks to the Phyllis C. Wattis Fund, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco recently acquired Pat Steir’s …

Artnet | Pat Steir Will Make Monumental Waterfall Paintings for Both the Barnes and the Hirshhorn in 2019

September 17, 2018

The commissions are the latest coup for the 78-year old artist, whose career is on a hot streak.

Artnews | Pour Forth: Pat Steir on Her Latest Paintings

October 20, 2017

And as almost everyone sees it these days, her career is soaring... Her work looks fresh—joyous and …

ArtNet | After Decades of Slow and Steady, Pat Steir’s Market Is Now Moving at a Breakneck Pace

September 28, 2017

Over the course of her 77 years, Pat Steir has veered between conceptual art, Minimalism, and figuration …

The New Yorker | Goings On About Town: Pat Steir

September 22, 2017

The esteemed New York painter’s new series, “Kairos,” demonstrates, once again, her knack for collaborating …

Artsy | What Sold at EXPO Chicago

September 17, 2017

Lévy Gorvy was another international gallery with a first-time presence at EXPO Chicago, lured, again, …

Artnet | Here Are 51 New York Gallery Shows That You Need to (Somehow) See This September

September 7, 2017

For her first show at Lévy Gorvy, Pat Steir debuts more than a dozen new works, including five 11-foot-tall …

BLOUIN ARTINFO | Top 15 Must-See Art Exhibitions in New York this September

September 7, 2017

To help you plan your calendar, BLOUIN ARTINFO’s Nicholas Forrest has chosen 15 must-see exhibitions …

Hamptons Art Hub | NYC Gallery Scene – Highlights

September 5, 2017

The exhibition title, which comes from a poem by Anne Waldman written specifically for the show, translates …

Cultured Magazine | Against the Grain

September 1, 2017

Artist Pat Steir compares beautiful artwork to an antidote to our cruel times. “There are two kinds …

Vulture | 38 Must-See Art Exhibits Opening This Fall

August 25, 2017

Pat Steir: Kairos | The conceptual painter, known for the effervescent colors and forms in her “Waterfall” …

New York Magazine | Fall Preview: Art

August 21, 2017

The conceptual painter, known for the effervescent colors and forms in her "Waterfall" series, returns …

Art Market Monitor | Why Galleries Look to Rediscover Artists

April 10, 2017

There remain a number of young artists who attract a great deal of attention from institutions and the …

The New York Times | ‘What Next?’ an Uncertain Art World Asks, Sticking to Proven Brands

April 7, 2017

The art market is almost as old as art itself. But it’s only in the last decade or so, with increased …

Vogue | Dealer's Choice

April 1, 2017

On a recent sun-drenched morning, Andrea Glimcher...

Vogue | It's Time To Talk About Gender Bias In The Art World

March 4, 2017

Next up: a talk this afternoon by painter and national treasure Pat Steir, Russian-born philanthropist …

Boston Globe | Anne Waldman and Meredith Monk’s intimate ritual at ICA

February 27, 2017

Accompanied by the music of her son Ambrose Bye, and illuminated by images of Pat Steir’s brightly …

New York Times | As Top-Tier Artists Age, the Art World Hopes to Cash In

January 30, 2017

Even Brett Gorvy, who just left Christie’s after 23 years to join forces with the dealer Dominique …

Creators | Streaming Oil Waterfall Paintings Question the Formal Line

January 14, 2017

London gallery Lévy Gory is exhibiting New York artist Pat Steir’s bold oil paintings through January …

Artsy | New Fairs and Blue Chip Dealers Descend on San Francisco to End Debate Over City’s Art Market

January 10, 2017

Lévy says she was compelled to participate in the fair after “witnessing the energy and the support …

Harper's Bazaar | Creative Flow

December 1, 2016

It’s hard to fully comprehend the paintings of Pat Steir until you’ve stood in front of one.

Financial Times | Trickle-down effect: the method (or madness) of Pat Steir

November 4, 2016

In Pat Steir’s Manhattan kitchen there are drawings of dogs by her friends Wayne Thiebaud and Joan …

Interview | Artists at Work: Pat Steir

August 9, 2016

Pat Steir is a full-time painter, but in another life, she was likely an acclaimed poet.

Interior Russia | Pat Steir Gallery Dominique Lévy

May 18, 2016

Pat Steir - artist, who managed to marry Eastern philosophy, abstract expressionism and conceptual art. Steir …


May 12, 2016

Dominique Lévy is pleased to announce the gallery’s representation of artist Pat Steir, who first …

ArtNews | Dominique Lévy Adds Pat Steir to Its Roster, Plans September Show in London

May 12, 2016

In the midst of an auction week marked by huge sales for work by Cy Twombly and Agnes Martin in New York, …

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