(American, born 1926)
oil on canvas, 50 1/4 x 60 1/4 inches
Jack Youngerman was born in St. Louis in 1926 and studied at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Following his service in the Navy during World War II he traveled to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts under the GI Bill. There he met a number of modern masters, such as Jean Arp and Alexander Calder, who inspired the development of his own elegantly contoured abstractions. Upon his return to the United States in 1956, Youngerman settled into a studio in New York City’s Coenties Slip, which became the epicenter for a new generation of American artists, including Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, and Robert Indiana. This “band of outsiders” as Youngerman called them, shared a common tendency toward simple shapes and flat expanses of color, an economy of means markedly different from the self-expressive painting of the previous generation.
As with his other early works, South (1959) may have been inspired by forms found within the landscape. However, it does not seek to illustrate the world in any specific way. Rather, it evinces what Youngerman has aptly termed “organic abstraction,” a distillation of the essential spirit of nature into pure form and color. Youngerman now lives in Bridgehampton, New York and continues to exhibit his art internationally.
. . . the whole primary thing I work with in my paintings is an exploration and articulation of all the possibilities of abstract shape as opposed to the shape of things and as opposed to geometric work where you work with pre-existing shapes. It is the invention of form that I am involved with.
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