• Pat Steir in her studio, New York 2017. Photo: Jean-François Jaussaud.

Story Sep 17, 2018 Washington, D.C.

Pat Steir Awarded Major Hirshhorn Museum Commission

September 17, 2018

Today Lévy Gorvy is congratulating artist Pat Steir, who has been awarded the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden 2019 inner circle galleries commission! The site-specific commission will be the largest the artist has ever produced, comprising an expansive new suite of Waterfall paintings. Organized by Hirshhorn Senior Curator Evelyn Hankins, Pat Steir will span the entire perimeter of the museum’s second-floor inner circle galleries in a monumental sequence of color and gesture. Each of the 28 paintings will present a dynamic abstract composition in contrasting colors, with the pours that characterize the Waterfall series creating an immense color wheel that encircles the gallery in shifting hues.

Pat Steir. Vibrating Blue and Red Waterfall, 1993. Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches (121.9 x 121.9 cm). © 2018 Pat Steir.

“We are honored to present these new, site-specific works by Pat Steir, one of the most influential artists working today,” said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. “Steir’s signature, multilayered canvases have time and time again redefined what it means to be a contemporary painter. Working within a framework that is simultaneously both painterly and conceptual, she has continued to create radical and profound abstractions.”

Over an influential career spanning nearly four decades, Pat Steir has created a body of work that constitutes a bold and at times playful exploration of the relationship between abstraction and representation. The Waterfall series embodies this exploration: characterized by layers of paint that are methodically dripped and poured over a monochrome ground, each work simultaneously represents the image and the action of a waterfall. Steir is a student of Zen Buddhism and Daoist thought, and the Waterfall paintings incorporate these practices’ metaphysical ideas of existing in harmony with nature. Expanding on this principle, the artist’s commissioned cycle of work has been conceived to appear in harmonious dialogue with the elements of the adjacent garden visible from the inner circle galleries, such as the Gordon Bunshaft-designed fountain, and seasonal shifts.

Pat Steir. Dragon Tooth Waterfall, 1990. Oil on canvas, 92 x 132 1/2″ (233.7 x 336.6 cm). © 2018 Pat Steir.

One of 31 women artists honored at the Hirshhorn’s November 2017 Gala in New York, this large-scale project marks Steir’s first commission in Washington, D.C., as well as her first solo exhibition in the city in nearly five decades. Over the last fifty years, Steir has exhibited extensively in the United States and Europe, with solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, Netherlands; P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY; and the Musée d’art Contemporain, Lyon, France, among others. Her most recent solo exhibition took place at Lévy Gorvy, New York in 2017.

Read more about the commission on Artnet.

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