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Jack Youngerman. Photo: Jonathan Morse.
Jack Youngerman. Photo: Jonathan Morse.

Jack Youngerman (1926–2020)

American artist Jack Youngerman, whose six-decade output ranged from Constructivist-inflected geometries and shaped canvases to elliptically organic forms, died on Wednesday in Stony Brook, New York, reports the New York Times. He was ninety-three years old.

Youngerman was born in Missouri in 1926, and studied at the University of Missouri for a year before being drafted to the Navy in 1944. After being discharged, he completed his studies in journalism in 1947, then enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris on the GI Bill. He remained in France until 1956, when he returned to New York with the encouragement of gallerist Betty Parsons. He held his first New York exhibition in 1958. The next year, he was included alongside Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Ellsworth Kelly in the pivotal exhibition “Sixteen Americans” at the Museum of Modern Art. In 1966, his works appeared with that of Jo Baer, Agnes Martin, and Kenneth Noland in the group exhibition “Systemic Painting” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, curated by Lawrence Alloway. A series of solo exhibitions at Betty Parsons, Pace, and Washburn Gallery followed, then a 1986 retrospective at the Guggenheim.

In 1995, Youngerman moved to Bridgehampton, where he had maintained a studio and home since the late 1960s. The Parrish Art Museum in Southhampton staged an exhibition of his folding-screen paintings from the 1970s and ’80s in 2005. In recent years, he returned to his earlier mandorla and Op Art–inspired forms.

“I choose what I think are eloquent shapes,” he said in an interview with Barbara Rose in the January 1966 issue of Artforum. “They must provide some revelation . . . I like real elegance; I also like crudeness, its opposite . . . I decided long ago to take every liberty I needed. I’ll paint rough again tomorrow, if I feel like it.”