Larry Zox

Statement/Biography

LARRY ZOX (1937-2006)

Committed to abstraction throughout his career, Larry Zox played a central role in the Color Field discourse of the 1960s and 1970s. His work of the time, consisting of brilliantly colored geometric shapes in dynamic juxtapositions, demonstrated that hard-edge painting was neither cold nor formalistic. He reused certain motifs, but he did so less to explore their aspects than to “get at the specific character and quality of each painting in and for itself,” as James Monte stated in his essay for Zox’s solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1973. By the 1970s, Zox was using a freer, more emotive method, while maintaining the autonomy of color, which increasingly became more important to him than structure in his late years.

Zox began to receive attention in the 1960s, when he was included in several groundbreaking exhibitions of Color Field and Minimalist art, including Shape and Structure (1965), organized by Henry Geldzahler for the Gallery of Modern Art, New York, and Systemic Painting (1966), organized by Lawrence Alloway for the Guggenheim Museum. In 1973, the Whitney’s solo exhibition of Zox’s work gave recognition to his significance in the art scene of the preceding decade. In the following year, Zox was represented in the inaugural exhibition of the Hirshhorn Museum, which owns fourteen of his works.

Zox was born in Des Moines, Iowa. He attended the University of Oklahoma and Drake University. While studying at the Des Moines Art Center, he was mentored by George Grosz, who despite his own figurative approach encouraged Zox’s forays into abstraction. In 1958, Zox moved to New York, joining the downtown art scene. His studio on 20th Street became a gathering place for artists, jazz musicians, bikers, and boxers. He occasionally sparred with the visiting fighters. He later established a studio in East Hampton, where he painted and fished including using a helicopter to spot fish.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Zox’s works were collages consisting of painted pieces of paper stapled onto sheets of plywood. He then produced paintings that were illusions of collages, including both torn- and trued-edged forms, to which he added a wide range of intense hues that created ambiguous surfaces. Next, he omitted the collage aspect of his work and applied flat color areas to create more complete statements of pure color and shape.

From 1962 to 1965, he produced his Rotation Series, at first creating plywood and Plexiglas reliefs, which turned squares into dynamic polygons. He used these shapes in his paintings as well, employing white as a foil between colors to produce negative spaces that suggest that the colored shapes had only been cut out and laid down instead of painted. The New York Times noted in 1964: “The artist is hip, cool, adventurous, not content to stay with the mere exercise of sensibility that one sees in smaller works.”

In 1965, he began the Scissors Jack Series in which he arranged opposing triangular shapes with inverted Vs of bare canvas at their centers that threaten to split their compositions apart. The Diamond Cut and Diamond Drill paintings followed. In these, Zox used regularized formats as a means of revealing how color can change our perception of shape. In a single work he often combined industrial epoxy paints with acrylic to set up tensions between colors that would not exist otherwise. At the time, Peter Schjeldahl observed in The New York Times: Zox “is one painter who shows an ability to play by the rules without cramping at all an essentially romantic and exuberant sensibility.” His art of the period was equated with that of Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland.

In the late 1960s, Zox’s paintings, such as in his Gemini Series, became brushier and he often incorporated powdered mica into his paints to increase their visual effect. In the early 1970s, he explored a variety of new means of applying paint, including squeegees and other large tools. With these means, he moved away from preconception, while introducing a drawing procedure in which the outside limits of a painting were determined by cutting or cropping the canvas.

Zox’s work is included in many important public collections. In addition to the Hirshhorn, it belongs to the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Tate Modern, London; the Neues Museum, Bremen, Germany; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts; and many others.

CV

1937, born, Des Moines, Iowa
2006, died, Colchester, Connecticut
1955, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
1956, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa
1956, Des Moines Art Center (studied with Geoge Grosz)

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
Kornblee Gallery, New York, 1962.
Kornblee Gallery, New York, 1964.
Kornblee Gallery, New York, 1965.
Kornblee Gallery, New York, 1966.
JL Hudson Gallery, Detroit, Michigan, 1967.
Colgate University, Hamilton, New York, 1968.
Galerie Rolf Ricke, Cologne, Germany, 1968.
Kornblee Gallery, New York, 1968.
Kornblee Gallery, New York, 1969.
Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1970.
Akron Art Institute, Ohio, 1971.
Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, 1973.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1973.
Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa, 1974
Janie C. Lee Gallery, Dallas, Texas, 1974.
Rush Rhees Gallery, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, 1974.
Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, 1975.
Daniel Templeton Gallery, Paris, 1975.
Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, 1976.
Medici-Berenson Gallery, Bay Harbor Islands, Florida, 1978.
Allen Rubiner Gallery, Royal Oak, Michigan, 1979.
Ivory/Kimpton Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1981.
Hokin Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, 1981.
Meredith Long & Co., Houston, Texas, 1981.
Salander-O’Reilly Gallery, New York, 1982.
Rubiner Gallery, West Bloomfield, Michigan, 1985.
Images Gallery, Toledo, Ohio, 1986.
Percival Gallery, Des Moines Iowa 1987.
Percival Gallery, Des Moines Iowa, 1989.
Images Gallery, Toledo, Ohio, 1990.
Rubiner Gallery, West Bloomfield, Michigan, 1990.
Gallery One, Toronto, Canada, 1991.
Percival Gallery, Des Moines, Iowa, 1991.
Robert Stein Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri, 1992.
Harnett Museum of Art, University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia, 1993.
CS Shulte Gallery, Millburn, New Jersey, 1994.
Percival Gallery, Des Moines, Iowa, 1995.
Percival Gallery, Des Moines, Iowa, 2000.
Olson Larsen Gallery, Des Moines, Iowa, 2002.
Olson Larsen Gallery, Des Moines, Iowa, 2003.
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, 2005.
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, 2006.
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, 2007.
Rocket Gallery, London, 2007.
DTR Modern Galleries, Boston, Massachusetts, 2007.
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, 2008.
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, 2010.
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, 2011.
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, 2013.
Berry Campbell Gallery, New York, 2017.
Berry Campbell Gallery, New York, Open Series (1972-1975), 2019.

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
The American Gallery, New York, 1963.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, 1964.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1964.
Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, 1965.
Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, 1965.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1965.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1966.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1967.
Riverside Museum, California, 1968.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1968.
Vassar College Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, New York, 1969.
Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts, 1969.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1970.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1972.
Palm Spring Desert Museum, Palm Springs, California, 1973.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1973.
Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, 1975.
Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta, Canada, 1977.
Allen Rubiner Gallery, Royal Oak, Michigan, 1979.
Ryngwood, Old Brooklyn, New York, 1979.
Maryland Institute of Art, Baltimore, 1980.
Meredith Long & Co., Houston, Texas, 1980.
Meredith Long & Co., Houston, Texas, 1980.
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Massachusetts, 1981.
Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York, 1981.
Salander-O’Reilly, New York, 1981.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1981.
Rubiner Gallery, West Bloomfield, Michigan, 1985.
Percival Gallery, Des Moines, Iowa, 1987.
Charles H. MacNider Museum, Mason City, Iowa, 1988.
Muscatine Art Center, Iowa, 1988.
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts, 1991.
CS Shulte Gallery, Millburn, New Jersey, 1993.
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts, 1994.
Mitchell Algus Gallery, New York, 1994.
Percival Gallery, Des Moines, Iowa, 1995.
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts, 1998.
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, 2001.
Elaine Baker Gallery, Boca Raton, Florida, 2005.
Guild Hall, East Hampton, New York, 2006.
Miami University Art Museum, Oxford, Ohio, 2006.
Terrain Gallery, New York, 2006.
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida, 2009.
Munson Williams Proctor Museum of Art, Utica, New York, 2009.
Price Tower Arts Center, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 2009.
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, 2009.
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, 2009.
Deutsche Guggenheim Museum, Berlin, Germany, 2010.
Donna Beam Gallery, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2010.
Loretta Howard Gallery, New York, 2010.
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, 2010.
Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, 2010.
Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, 2011.
Museum Gallery of Modern Art, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2011.
Museum of Modern Art Weserburg, Bremen, Germany, 2011.
Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, California, 2011.
Leepa-Ratner Museum of Art, Tarpon Springs, Florida, 2012.
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, 2012.
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, 2012.
Art Miami, Miami, Florida, 2015.
Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections, 2015.
Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections, 2016.
Eric Firestone Gallery, East Hampton, Montauk Highway: Postwar Abstraction in the Hamptons, 2017.
Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections, 2017.
Cavalier Galleries, New York, 57th Street: America’s Artistic Legacy, Part I, 2018.
Alpha 137 Gallery, New York, The Mid Century Modern Aesethetic, 2018.
Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections, 2018.
Eric Firestone Gallery, East Hampton, New York, Montauk Highway II: Postwar Abstraction in the Hamptons, 2018.
Alpha 137 Gallery, New York, Staff Favorites, 2018.
Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, Annual 50th Collectors Show and Sale, 2018-2019.
Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections, 2019. 

MUSEUM COLLECTIONS
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts
Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio
Akron Art Institute, Ohio
Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
Baum Gallery of Fine Art, University of Central Arkansas, Conway
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida
Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York
Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida
Dallas Museum of Art, Texas
Daimler Art Collection, Stuttgart, Germany
Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri
Des Moines Art Center, Iowa
Empire State Art Collection, New York
Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art, Norman, OK
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
Indianapolis Art Museum, Indiana
Juan Carlos Maldonado Art Collection, Miami, Florida
Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri
Kresge Art Museum, East Lansing, Michigan
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Miami University Art Museum, Oxford, Ohio
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Nasher Museum, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
National Museum Wales
Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen, Bremen, Germany
Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma
Palm Springs Desert Museum, California
Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York
Portland Art Museum, Oregon
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Tate Modern, London
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, Michigan
University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington
University of Virginia Art Museum, Charlottesville
Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

AWARDS/GRANTS
Guggenheim Fellowship, 1967
National Council of the Arts, 1969
Adolph Gottlieb Foundation Grant, 1985