Garth Greenan Gallery opens its doors to an in-depth look at the work of artist Al Loving from 1977 to 1993 in the exhibition, Al Loving: Space, Time, Light. These years were a period of immense transformation and experimentation for the artist, following his solo show at the Whitney Museum in 1969, and his early critical and commercial success.
Made from torn canvas, these wall-hangings dispensed with notions of centralized composition, figure/ground separation, and pictorial frame. Their rich and intuitive array of colors stretches irregularly, extending to the floor, encompassing the surrounding space, and engulfing the viewer.
These collages, though abstract in form, recall the contemporaneous, ecstatic collages of Romare Bearden, a seminal figure of the Harlem art world of the 1960s. Bearden’s figurative compositions are just as joyous and at times, musical, as Loving’s and served as an important influence for the artist.
In the collage below, Wythe Avenue #26 (1993), Loving combined hundreds of pieces of cut and torn paper into rich and intuitive arrays of color. These swirls and jagged spikes stretch irregularly, spiraling outward, surrounding the space, and engulfing the viewer.
Born in Detroit in 1935, Loving relocated to New York in 1968. Unlike other African-American artists whose art focused on the racial politics of the era, Loving was a staunch abstractionist. His works were built upon strict yet simple geometric shapes—often hexagonal or cubic modules. Inspired by Hans Hoffmann (who taught Loving’s mentor Al Mullen), Loving concentrated on the tension between flatness and spatial illusionism. He explored this tension using a hard-edged geometric vocabulary related to Minimalism—as in Untitled, 1969, which uses a strategic layering of cubic forms and juxtaposition of warm and cool colors to create an optical play of three-dimensionality.
Al Loving passed away in 2005. His most recent commission before his death was for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA Arts) a permanent installation that can be seen at the Broadway-East New York subway station in Brooklyn, entitled Broadway Junction. His estate is represented by Garth Greenan Gallery.