The Shaped Canvas, Revisited
Luxembourg & Dayan, New York
May 11 - July 3, 2014
Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s historic exhibition, Luxembourg & Dayan presented The Shaped Canvas, Revisited (2014), a cross-generational exhibition examining the enduring radicality of the painted shaped canvas and introducing such parallel movements as Pop art and Arte Povera to a discussion of the paradigm’s place in the history of modern art. The exhibition included more than two dozen works connecting the postwar shaped canvas to present-day practice. All of the works in The Shaped Canvas, Revisited take a nonrectangular approach to painting that celebrates perceptual tensions between internal structure and bounding shape; between pictorial and three-dimensional concerns; and between the literal and the illusory. Among the artists represented in the exhibition were Lynda Benglis, Lucio Fontana, Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein, Elizabeth Murray, Kenneth Noland, Claes Oldenburg, Richard Prince, James Rosenquist, Frank Stella, Richard Tuttle, and Tom Wesselmann.
In the early 1960s, the shaped canvas emerged as a new form of abstract painting that reflected the optimistic spirit of a postwar space-race era forms such as parallelograms, diamonds, rhomboids, trapezoids, and triangles suggested speed and streamlined stylization. Often, the shaped canvas is described as a hybrid of painting and sculpture, and its introduction was an outgrowth of central issues in abstract painting. The defining moment for the paradigm occurred in 1964 with The Shaped Canvas, an exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York curated by the influential critic Lawrence Alloway with works by Paul Feeley, Sven Lukin, Richard Smith, Frank Stella, and Neil Williams. Alloway’s exhibition defined a key feature of abstraction and revealed the participating artists’ desires to overthrow existing aesthetic hierarchies. The Shaped Canvas, Revisited debuted new works created by Justin Adian, John Armleder, Jeremy Deprez, and Rebecca Ward inspired by the original exhibition.