Larry Poons

(b. 1937)

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(1937– )

American abstract painter, born in Japan. Originally he studied music, but in 1958 he turned to painting and spent about six months at the Boston Museum School. In 1963, he had his first one-man exhibition, at the Green Gallery, New York, and thereafter he exhibited frequently, both in solo shows and major collective exhibitions. One of these was ‘The Responsive Eye’ at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1965, the exhibition that gave currency to the term ‘*Op art’, and Poons's early works are usually classified under this heading. They were an attempt to transpose musical structures into abstract geometrical compositions. Typically they featured a background of pure, bright, flat colour, against which ovoid spots of strongly contrasting colour (green against an orange background, for example) were arranged in patterns that can seem random but are in fact controlled by underlying grids. The dots often seem to flicker or jump across the canvas. The lack of any points of emphasis in the compositions was reminiscent of the all-over style initiated by Jackson Pollock, and Poons shared with the Abstract Expressionists a preference for very large canvases. By the end of the 1960s his work had become more painterly, the colour more austere and the dots extended to streaks. At the same time the paintings gained in depth and atmosphere, but Poons's interest remained primarily in the manipulation of colour. In the 1970s he broke completely with his earlier style, producing thickly textured, amorphous compositions with cracked and blistered surfaces (in some works he incorporated pieces of foam rubber soaked in paint).

Subjects: Art.

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