New York

Alan Gussow

Babcock Galleries

In 1953, a twenty-two-year-old Alan Gussow arrived at the American Academy in Rome, thanks to a Prix de Rome fellowship he had received while a student of painting at the Cooper Union—as, at the time, the youngest American to date. He had impressed Stuart Davis and others with his work, especially with Untitled, 1953, an abstract painting he called, simply, “The Big Yellow Thing.” Already the following year, however, he wrote: “I am shaking off a dependence on popular abstract idioms. . . . I have begun a great deal of drawing from life and landscape, making a strong and valid response to the local environment.” This marks the birth of Gussow’s “sense of place,” to refer to the title of a 1971 book about his work—subtitled “The Artist and the American Land”—but not the end of Gussow as an abstractionist. Work after work of the forty-odd pieces in this recent exhibition is subtly—fundamentally—abstract,

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