Joan Snyder: A Year in the Painting Life


Installation view into the large main gallery, with Brooklyn, Wol, Oh April and  Big Blue

Joan Snyder has been busy. Her show, A Year in the Painting Life, at Betty Cuningham in Chelsea, offers a look at what she worked on during the past 365 days. The number of paintings is impressive, both in number (15) and in size (the cenerpiece of the show, Oh April, is 54 by 210 inches, almost 18 feet wide).

Brooklyn, 2010; acrylic, pastel, burlap, fabric, herbs and rosebuds on linen, 54 x 72 inches

If I had to describe Joan Snyder’s painting to someone who had never seen it before, I would call it "Woodstock abstract expressionism"—fields of rosebuds, petals, seeds, herbs, straw and mud in concert with muscular brushwork, lovely colors and raggy burlap. (Maybe it's no coincidence that she lives part time in Woodstock?) Her paintings almost always feel like springtime—or more precisely, like the point in a cycle that has just ended with or is just about to begin with, spring. I don’t love every painting, but I respect Snyder’s unique vision and means of expression, which has been consistent for over 40 years. And you can get lost up close in her surfaces.
This wall is at your shoulders when you walk into the main gallery
At right: The Fall with Other Things in Mind, 2009; oil, acrylic, papier mache, cloth, seeds, dried flowers and herbs on linen; 54 x 72 inches ..

Information unavailable on website for painting in foreground. The gallery website shows a different painting in its place. I love the palette of this one

View between front gallery and main gallery
Left: Summer Fugue, 2010; oil, acrylic, papier mache, cord, wooden frame, burlap, silk on linen and wood panels
Right: Are Mine, 2010; oil, glitter, rosebuds and burlap on panel, 30 x 30 inches.

Detail of Are Mine below:

A Year in the Painting Life is up through October 30. Installation shots on the gallery website are plentiful. Navigating it is tortuous; there's a small window that requires you to scroll up and down as well as back and forth. But stick with it. Snyder's work is worth the inconvenience of the site.


Ian MacLeod said...


annell4 said...

Wonderful paintings, thank you for the post!

Hannah said...

Thank you Joanne, I've followed Snyder's work throughout the years and appreciate being able to see this latest collection. The large scale flower references remind me of some of Cy Twombley's later work.

Nancy Natale said...

Thanks for posting this, Joanne. I wouldn't imagine that her work resonates too much with your different aesthetic, but I appreciate your including so many images. That Joan Snyder can continue painting with such passion and enthusiasm is really inspiring.

Joanne Mattera said...

Hannah, I'm pretty sure Snyder's flowers--often actual flowers--were in her paintings before Twombly turned floral.

Nancy, I really do like her work even though it's antithetical to my own work. I certainly can relate to her sense of color.

Annell, Thanks as always for your kind words.

Anonymous said...

I'm respoding to these with the same weight of emotion as an Anselm Kiefer, but it's a completely different tone. I think the Kiefer refernce applies through the raw physical use of material, but there is life in these paintings where there is death and despair in Kiefer. Incidentally, I like both types of work, they just wash over my mind in differnt ways.

Tamar said...

I saw the Joan Snyder exhibit just after the looking at the very contemplative, smooth surfaced paintings of Johnnie Winona Ross. And found the sheer exuberance of Snyder's work exhilarating!

Joe HendryArt said...

So organic, so Tactile, So Different!
When I see work like this it makes me think that, a sa painter I need to stop being so safe.