Frank Bowling exhibition reviewed by Piri Halasz

Frank Bowling: Recent Paintings

Frank Bowling, "Rockintored," 2011, acrylic on canvas, 45-1/8 x 39 inches

View the exhibition  |  Exhibition catalogue  |  Read Bowling biography

We are pleased to share the following excerpt from Piri Halasz’s review of Frank Bowling: Recent Paintings, posted on her blog, (An Appropriate Distance) From the Mayor’s Doorstep, on April 13, 2012.


The two shows at Spanierman (both through April 28) are “Frank Bowling: Recent Paintings” (at Spanierman Modern) and “Arthur B. Davies: Painter, Poet, Romancer & Mystic” (at Spanierman Gallery). This will be the third time in three years that I’ve written about Bowling, the first having been a lengthy review of his mini-retrospective here at Spanierman in September 2010, and the second, a review of the book about him by Mel Gooding, in October 2011. This time, the show consists of 24 medium-sized to very large paintings, all done in 2011 except for the largest, a multi-paneled “Girls in the City” (1991) that covers the entire east wall of the gallery. In fact, the whole fine show is Bowling in an expansive mood, with large, sweeping areas of paint, large pieces of canvas sometimes superimposed diagonally in the center of his paintings, and his characteristically neat, narrow rows of stitched and/or stapled of strips of canvas kept to a minimum, along the borders of some (but not all) of the paintings. “Bed in Memory of ‘Dry River Dan,’” a tall, narrow canvas, is classic in its simplicity, with vertical bands of red, purple and green-gold. “Julie McGee’s Flowers” is an all-green whorl of paint, with lots of dribbled gold in the center, plus a small, gilded round form shaped rather like a bottle-cap in the center, together with some paint-soaked bits of cloth. Sounds overly elaborate – but isn’t. The best painting in the show is the 12-foot-long “Girls in the City,” with each of its seven panels neatly & rigorously covered with broad, shiny & richly impastoed rows of reddish-golden-brown paint, and parts of its substructure the red of blood or fire.

Also see the review at

View the exhibition   |  Exhibition catalogue  |  Read Bowling biography

Frank Bowling: Exhibitions Abound


Lisa N. Peters

Recently included in our exhibition, Fifteen Contemporary Artists, Frank Bowling is also being featured in several current and upcoming individual and group exhibitions.  The solo shows consist of Frank Bowling: Recent Paintings, opening at Spanierman Modern on March 29 (view catalogue PDF), Frank Bowling: Poured Paintings, opening at Tate Britain on April 30, Frank Bowling: Recent Large Works, opening at Hales Gallery, London, on May 31, and Frank Bowling: Recent Small Works, opening at Chris Dyson Gallery, London, on July 6.  A two-man show of the work of Bowling and Dennis DeCaires opened February 28 at the University of Glyndwr, in Wrexham, North Wales.  Bowling is at the center of one the group exhibitions: Bowling’s Friends, opening at the Cello Factory, London, on May 23.  This show situates Bowling among artists of a younger generation whose work he admires.  The other group shows include Migrations, which opened January 31 at Tate Britain (this show explores the theme of migration from 1500 to the present, reflecting the range of the Tate Britain’s collections); British Design, 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age, opening at the Victoria and Albert Museum on March 31; and A Family Affair, opening at the Cello Factory on June 2.  On October 12, 2012, during Bowling’s exhibition at the Tate Britain, the culture critic and writer Courtney Martin will conduct a public conversation with the artist.  This will take place during Frieze week and will be held in the Clore Auditorium from noon to 1:30 pm.

Bowling’s shows, following the publication of Mel Gooding’s 2011 monograph on the artist and his many honors (including becoming the first black Royal Academician), give recognition to the richness of his art in its varied facets over many decades.

Bowling’s paintings reference many artistic sources.  The legacy of Pollock is present in their dripped and splattered surfaces.  There’s also a sense of Rothko’s shifting and resonant color that seems to hang in front of what is seen.  Older associations can also be discerned, among them the sublime and radiant light in the art of Turner.

Frank Bowling - 37528, 2008

Frank Bowling, "37528," 2008, acrylic on canvas, 32 x 29 inches

This is vividly apparent in 37528 (2008), a blazing and shimmering atmospheric image.  Its feeling is both celestial and aquatic.  The light is complex–a fiery glow, associated with masculine force, blended with a cooler haze, evoking the feminine.  A mood results that is mixed, both emotive and contemplative.  In this painting and others, canvas layers are stitched together, and edges have been cut with pinking shears, methods in which Bowling summons the memory of his mother, a seamstress who parlayed her talent at sewing dresses, hats, and Indian saris into a successful business. As a teenager, Bowling worked a route for his mother, taking orders for clothing and selling swatches and pattern books.

Frank Bowling, "Carriage," 2006, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 41 inches

Frank Bowling, "Carriage," 2006, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 41 inches

The light in Carriage (2006) is even more varied.  A vivid pink shape emerges from the center of the field, recalling the maps of Africa that Bowling featured in his art in the late 1960s, but here the shape is distorted and amorphous.  Is it suggestive of the tumult of hope and despair gripping Ethiopia and Somalia at the end of the last decade?  Whether it is symbolic or not, the painting has the dynamic subtlety that characterizes Bowling’s work along with the craftsmanship that stemmed from his youthful experience, endowing it with authencity.

Frank Bowling, RA, O.B.E., Book Signing

Reception and book signing by the artist
Tuesday, October 4, 2011 from 6 to 8 p.m.

For further information please contact:
Martha Campbell (

Frank Bowling monograph by Mel Gooding

"Frank Bowling," monograph by Mel Gooding

Spanierman Modern is pleased to announce that Frank Bowling, RA, O.B.E., will be at the gallery on October 4, 2011 from 6 to 8 p.m. to sign copies of the new monograph about his work by professor, art writer, critic, and curator, Mel Gooding. Published by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, the 160-page book is lavishly illustrated and covers Bowling’s career to the resent. Addressing Bowling’s life, methods, and the poetic nature of his art, Gooding attests to the fact that Bowling is one of the finest artists to emerge from the artists’ circles of New York and London in recent decades. The book, entitled Frank Bowling, is available through the gallery for $45; New York residents, please add sales tax.

Frank Bowling - Oddysseus's Footfalls, 1982

Frank Bowling, "Oddysseus's Footfalls," 1982, acrylic on canvas, 93-1/4 x 70 inches

Frank Bowling has received and is continuing to receive an exceptional amount of  attention and acclaim. He is the first black artist in history to be elected to the Royal Academy, London, and he was honored in 2008 with the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) for his service to art. This year, two important shows of Bowling’s work were held: in May, the Royal Academy, London, opened Journeyings, an exhibition of Bowling’s recent works on paper that closes October 23; from late August through early September, he was prominently featured in RCA Black, an exhibition held at the Royal College of Art Students Union, which was organized by the college in collaboration with the African and African Caribbean Design Diaspora. Next year, Bowling will be honored with more notable shows: his paintings will be included in a group exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, opening in April 2012, and his art will be on display at the Tate Gallery, London from April through November 2012. Spanierman Modern will hold an exhibition in April of Bowling’s new work to coincide with these two shows.

“With his recent flurry of exhibitions, Frank Bowling is taking London by storm,” began Stephanie Cotela Tanner in an article on Bowling posted in August on the website  For Tanner’s discussion of Bowling’s career, including an interview with him, visit

Piri Halasz Reviews “Ten Modern and Contemporary Artists”

Frank WImberley - Tide Murmur, 2011

Frank Wimberley (b. 1926), "Tide Murmur," 2011, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

Spanierman Gallery invites you to view the  exhibition Ten Modern and Contemporary Artists, presenting works created from the mid-twentieth century to the present by ten artists: Frank Bowling, Dan Christensen, Teo González, Carol Hunt, Stephen Pace, Charlotte Park, Katherine Parker, Betty Parsons, Neil Williams, and Frank Wimberley Please read the following review of the exhibition by Piri Halasz from her online art column From the Mayor’s Doorstep. This exhibition ends this Saturday, July 16th, at 5:30PM.

July 11, 2011

By Piri Halasz

Uptown, Spanierman has turned the “historical” side of its gallery into a stage for “Ten Modern and Contemporary Artists” (through July 16—a collagist is in Spanierman Modern). The focus in the group show is on artists older than the LaViola group, and/or artists practicing the gestural painting led by de Kooning in the 50s. Among them are Betty Parsons (better known as a dealer, but occasionally piquant as a painter), Charlotte Park, Stephen Pace, Neil Williams (shaped canvases in Day-Glo colors half-way between Zox and Stella), Carol Hunt, Katherine Parker, and Teo González. The three who stood out for me were Dan Christensen, Frank Bowling and Frank Wimberley. The first two, I am sure, are familiar to most of my readers, but they may not be aware that here is a chance to see five or six fine paintings by each.

Dan Christensen - Bill's Drift, 1979

Dan Christensen (1942-2007), "Bill's Drift," 1979, acrylic on canvas, 57-1/2 x 29-1/2 inches

The large “LS” (1967) by Christensen, displayed in the gallery’s window, is a magnificent example of the artist’s softly-hued spray paintings, built up of horizontal strokes of cream and gray, hints of brighter hues peeping through. Also handsome is “Wave” (1987), a small narrow horizontal, with white and red striations across it, and especially “Bill’s Drift” (1979). This was a type of painting by Christensen that I’d never seen before, with a yellow field dominated by a diagonally vertical stripe of Kelly green, and lesser accents of purple, pink, orange and blue. I also saw five paintings by Bowling – 2 from the 70s, one from 1980, 2 from last year. The two recent ones, “Old Altar Piece” and “Wreath,” were both welcome and familiar, but the two from the 70s were unexpected and gave me fresh jolts. “Flame” (1975) is blended vertical stripes of color, the broadest being mauve and the narrow one next to it, a surprising red, while “Sanovski” (1977) is a knockout, with an intricate rainbow of pale colors, blended like the feathers on a peacock’s tail.

Wimberley (b. 1926) is the least known of the three, and I was only able to see three paintings by him. One left me cold, but the other two were impressive. This artist works with a defiantly flat matte finish. His “Immixture” (2011) is yellow paint slathered on, in raised short, folded strokes over a black field. “Tide Murmur” (2011) is large horizontal rectangles and narrower stripes of grays and black with accents of white, mustard and a pale bluish gray. With Wimberley, as with Christensen and Bowling, there was one painting on the checklist I couldn’t see, because it was out on approval. I would be irritated except that I’m happy business seems good.

View the exhibition online

Ten Modern & Contemporary Artists Exhibition

Spanierman Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition Ten Modern and Contemporary Artists, featuring works created from the mid-twentieth century to the present by ten artists: Frank Bowling, Dan Christensen, Teo González, Carol Hunt, Stephen Pace, Charlotte Park, Katherine Parker, Betty Parsons, Neil Williams, and Frank Wimberley. The exhibition is on view thru June 16, 2011.

Dan Christensen - Redzilla, 2006

Dan Christensen - Redzilla, 2006

A seminal figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement, Betty Parsons (1900–1982) launched the careers of many leading artists through the gallery she ran for thirty years; she was also an artist in her own right, producing abstract paintings and sculpture in which she drew from her stimulating milieu and expressed her own personal and witty responses to her surroundings. Charlotte Park (1918–2010), wife of James Brooks, evolved a unique version of Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s, developing a dynamic, vibrant approach to express a wide emotional range. The New York Times art critic Roberta Smith identified Park as among a few other women artists whose art shows “hints of bodies of work that might sustain further study.” Contemporary with Park, Stephen Pace (1918–2010) enjoyed a long and productive career. He visited the Paris home of Gertrude Stein in the 1940s, became a friend of Milton Avery’s in the 1950s, and trained with Hans Hofmann, whose teachings spurred the direct and vigorous Abstract Expressionist style he developed in the 1950s. In 1961, the critic, Thomas B. Hess, deemed him a “brilliant member of the second generation of New York School painters that burst on the scene, in the early 1950s, fully made, as if from the forehead of the Statue of Liberty.” Continue reading

Frank Bowling at Royal Academy and Tate Britain

Frank Bowling - Old Altar Piece, 2010

Frank Bowling, "Old Altar Piece," 2010, acrylic on canvas, 44 x 31 inches

Frank Bowling’s Solo Exhibition at the Royal Academy
The Royal Academy in London presently has on view a solo exhibition of Frank Bowling’s work through October 23, 2011.  The exhibition will celebrate Bowling’s long career and highlight his contributions to the Abstract Expressionist and Color Field movements.  The opening also marks the fifth anniversary of Bowling’s election to the Royal Academy.

Frank Bowling Monograph
In addition, the Royal Academy of Art recently published a monograph, which honors Frank Bowling’s life and work.  Written by the renowned art critic Mel Gooding, the monograph launch coincided with the opening of Frank Bowling’s exhibition at the Royal Academy.

Bowling’s Display at Tate Britain
2012 sees even bigger developments in Frank Bowling’s career.  His work will be featured in a display at Tate Britain, curated by Courtney J. Martin.

Group Exhibition at Spanierman Gallery, LLC
This summer Spanierman Gallery, LLC will host the group exhibition Ten Modern and Contemporary Artists from June 16-July 16, 2011, featuring several paintings by Frank Bowling.  For more details, please contact Bethany Dobson,, (212) 832-0208.

Solo Bowling Exhibition at Spanierman Modern
Coinciding with the opening of Bowling’s Tate Britain exhibition, Spanierman Modern will host a solo exhibition in April 2012.  For more details, please contact Martha Campbell,, (212) 832-1400.

Frank Bowling is represented by Spanierman Modern
For further information please contact:
Martha Campbell  -  -  (212) 832-1400

Frank Bowling Exhibition Listed in Top 5

Robert Ayers, writer for ArtNews, has listed Frank Bowling, O.B.E., RA in a blog post as one of the five best gallery shows opening this week. Ayers says of the exhibition,

See this show and you’ll discover the work of an inspired abstractionist, much influenced by Greenberg during his lifetime – though let’s not hold that against him – who in his mid-seventies is still turning out wonderful pictures.

Read his entire post here:

We hope you’ll be able to visit Spanierman Modern to view Mr. Bowling’s work. The opening is tonight from 6pm-8pm and the exhibition is on view through October 16th. There is also an exhibition catalogue available.

Frank Bowling - Pondlife, 2010

Frank Bowling (b. 1936), "Pondlife," 2010 Acrylic on canvas, 57 x 51 inches

Frank Bowling on YouTube

While preparing Spanierman Modern’s website for the upcoming Frank Bowling show (Sept. 14-Oct. 16, 2010) we discovered two videos of the artist on YouTube. One is an excerpt from a documentary directed by Rose Jones on Frank Bowling’s life and work, featuring interviews in which he describes his experience living in New York (1966-75) and the development of his artwork during that time. The second is a podcast from the U.K.’s Government Art Collection interviewing the artist on his piece in the collection, Kaieteurtoo, 1975. Bowling discusses the influences on this painting, including the landscape of Guyana and Abstract Expressionism in the 1960s.

Videos not displaying? Watch them on YouTube:

Excerpt from Frank Bowling’s Life and Work by Rose Jones

Government Art Collection podcast on Frank Bowling