Jack Youngerman

(b. 1926)

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(1926– ).

Painter, sculptor, and printmaker. He made his reputation in the 1960s with large, brightly colored abstractions, generally focused on a few cleanly defined, jagged-edged shapes, tightly locked into the picture plane. Related to the generally less agitated work of his friend Ellsworth Kelly, these canvases contributed to the popularity of 1960s hard-edge painting. Born in St. Louis, Youngerman studied at the University of North Carolina before entering military service in 1944. Two years later he resumed his education at the University of Missouri. After receiving a BA in 1947, he left for Europe. In Paris, where he befriended Kelly, he studied in 1947–48 at the École des Beaux-Arts. Before settling in New York in 1956, he traveled extensively in Europe and worked on projects in Lebanon and Iraq with French architect and urban planner Michel Ecochard. Drawn to Matisse, Mondrian, and other masters of simplified form, while still in Europe he began painting the bold shapes that characterize his mature work. In New York, he gradually abandoned an impasto technique in favor of smooth paint application, showing little trace of brushwork. By the late 1960s, he often employed less expressionistic, sensuous forms abstracted from nature and set within ambiguous figure-ground relationships. Since the 1970s, he has turned increasingly to sculpture. In the 1990s and after, his three-dimensional work culminated in large, spiraling, columnar works indebted to Brancusi (whose studio he visited during his formative years) and in painted plywood reliefs that recall works by Arp. Crafted from laminated layers and featuring sensuously polished wood surfaces, the columns reengage the modern search for ideal form, while the wall pieces jump with quirky energy. As a printmaker, Youngerman has worked in several media but primarily lithography. He lives in Bridgehampton, near the eastern end of Long Island.

Subjects: Art.

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