Archie Rand

Phyllis Kind Gallery

This exhibition confirmed a suspicion I’ve had since the late ’70s: Archie Rand is one of the most ambitious and, more importantly, the most accomplished artists of his generation. Born in 1949, he produced his first mature paintings when he was 19. As a series, these “Letter Paintings” are perhaps the greatest, still relatively unknown body of work done during the late ’60s and early ’70s. Incorporating with obsessive thoroughness the names of both famous and forgotten bebop musicians, doo-wop groups, and r ’n’ b bands, the “Letter Paintings” are not only an extension of linear Abstract Expressionism but also anticipate graffiti painting by more than a decade.

The 12 paintings in this show reveal the parameters of Rand’s restless ambition. Most are fairly large, and one of them, Garden Party, 1985, is epic in both scale and scope. A tour de force, Garden Party typifies the artist’s desire

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