Larry Poons

born 1937

Larry Poons, 'Out' 1967
Out 1967
© Larry Poons/VAGA, New York and DACS, London 2017
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Artist biography

Larry Poons born 1937

American abstract painter. Born in Tokyo, Japan, of American parents and taken to the USA 1938. Studied composition at the New England Conservatory of Music 1955-7, but turned instead to painting and spent about six months at the Boston Museum Art School 1958. Began by attempting to transpose musical structures in terms of abstract geometrical compositions. Made his first dot paintings in 1962-3 with single dots, all of one colour, arranged along horizontal and vertical axes on a large monochrome field. First one-man exhibition at the Green Gallery, New York, 1963. From 1964 his work became richer and more complex through the introduction of ellipses, a greater number of colours for the dots or ellipses, and alignments 4563 to the vertical. The underlying grid structure was abandoned in 1967 when, partly under the influence of Olitski, he began to work with larger and looser lozenges of colour which were irregularly distributed, then from 1970 to cover the picture surface with poured layers of thick, coagulated paint. Lives in New York.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.619

Wikipedia entry

Lawrence Poons (born October 1, 1937), better known as Larry Poons, is an abstract painter who was born in Tokyo, Japan. He studied from 1955 to 1957 at the New England Conservatory of Music, with the intent of becoming a professional musician. In 1959, he enrolled at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and also studied at the Art Students League of New York.

He rose to prominence in the 1960s with paintings of circles and ovals on solid—often brilliantly colored—backgrounds. These paintings conveyed a sense of movement, and were categorized as op art. Although he exhibited with optical artists in 1965, by 1966 he had moved away from the optical art towards looser and more painterly abstract canvases. His work is associated with Op Art, Hard-edge painting, Color Field painting, Lyrical Abstraction and Abstract Expressionism.

Larry Poons taught at The Art Students League from 1966-1970 and currently teaches at the League (since 1997).

He played guitar with The Druds, a short-lived avant-garde noise music art band that featured prominent members of the New York proto-conceptual art and minimal art community in the early 1960s.

As a vintage motorcycle racer who divides his time between painting and motorcycle racing, Poons has been given special awards from the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA), including the 500 cc Hailwood Cup in 1998 and 2003, and the 2003 John & Ginny Demoisey Trophy for road racing couples, with his wife, painter Paula DeLuccia. He races a Matchless G50 and a Ducati 250.

He currently resides primarily in New York City, but also maintains a studio in upstate New York.

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