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Pat Steir

The Floating Line

June 4–July 10, 2016

Installation allows the artist to paint out of the painting and into the space and the viewer to move from space into a painting…

— Pat Steir, 2016


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Pat Steir first had the idea of making a “floating line” in 1980 when she was approached about creating a site-specific piece at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin. The project never materialized but Steir remained intent on realizing her vision and produced her first line installation in March 2014 at the Armory show in New York followed that same month by a version at Galleria Alessandra Bonomo in Rome. The line drawing at ‘T’ Space is her fifth. To generate the Floating Lines, Steir adopts an almost scientific approach. First, she draws a line on paper which a 3D designer then adapts to the dimensions of the space at hand. Next, the space is gridded out and painted a deep blue and the line is taped out on the wall. Finally, Steir paints the line free-hand following the tape, while the room is suffused with black light lending the white brushstroke a luminescent glow. As Steir has described the experience, “I’m trying to define a particular space with color and light so that the viewer is standing in the very middle of the painting and not standing in front of it and looking at it.” Immersed in a kind of panoramic arena, viewers of the lines are forced to confront their position in space while the lines literally articulate their architectural containers as well as the artist’s physical passage.

— Claire Gilman, 2016

A ‘T’ shaped space partially hides… The idea was to make the smallest possible gallery in which you cannot see it all at once. This time the gallery will unwind the Floating Line. Pat’s inside-outside painting will be a partial view, never rolled out completely; never completely revealed or explained.

As Georges Braque said, “The only thing that matters in art is what cannot be explained.” Space here might work in the atmosphere of the unexplainable. The geometry and background cannot be understood as a plane of the painting.

A Space that surrounds presents not just the three dimensions of space, but the fourth dimension of time. As Paul Virilio argues in his pivotal book Open Sky, the most critical of the dimensions is the “[T]he fourth dimension of time [as it is] – more precisely, the dimension of the present.” We are within a powerful stimulus going inside this work, exploring a painting transformed into space while we think of the thick dark layers of the marine-blue covering all of the walls… the thick matter of paint. We reflect on the matter / space / time of our present moment.

— Steven Holl, 2016


Pat Steir, born 1940 in Newark, NJ, works in paint, printmaking and installation art. She is a recipient of the Guggenheim Artist’s Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist’s Grant, and is a recipient of a U.S. Medal of Arts.  She received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Art from Pratt Institute, as well as an Alumni Honoree from both Pratt Institute and Boston University. Rooted in writing and literature, Steir worked as an editor for Semiotext magazine and was a founding board member of both the Printed Matter bookshop, New York and the landmark feminist journal, Heresies.  Her work is included in major public collections around the world, including The MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, NYC; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; The Tate Gallery, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.  As described by Art in America about her work, “This is painting in a grand tradition.” She lives and works in New York and Vermont.

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