Deborah Remington, Saratoga, 1972, oil on canvas, 91 x 87 inches. Image courtesy of the Deborah Remington Charitable Trust for the Visual Arts.
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 16, 2020
After decades of intermittent attention, Deborah Remington’s work is undergoing a steady rediscovery. Best known for her unusual mix of abstraction and illusionism, Remington’s paintings crystallize flatness and depth into luminous, hard-edged compositions that resemble machines, emblems, or shields. This exhibition will be the first to reconsider these forms in the context of America’s postwar technological ascendancy and Remington’s relationship with contemporaneous art historical developments, including Minimalism and Light and Space. Marking the artist’s first major institutional survey in the Bay Area in over 35 years, this exhibition presents the arc of Remington’s career from the late 1940s to the mid-2000s through some 60 artworks, and a broad selection of archival material, starting with her student work; progressing to her mature paintings and drawings; and ending with her highly embellished works from the last two decades of her life.
Deborah Remington was born in Haddonfield, New Jersey in 1930. In 1948 Remington moved to San Francisco to attend the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). Among her professors were Clyfford Still and Elmer Bischoff, whose teachings strongly influenced the gestural energy in Remington’s early abstractions. At this time, Remington also became affiliated with the Bay Area’s burgeoning Beat scene. She was one of six painters and poets, and the only woman, who founded the now legendary 6 Gallery in San Francisco in 1954 (where Allen Ginsberg first read “Howl” in October 1955).
After receiving her BFA in 1955, Remington spent two years in Japan studying calligraphy, then travelled extensively through Southeast Asia and India. Upon returning to San Francisco, Remington continued to refine her formal vocabulary and eventually joined Dilexi Gallery where she had several solo exhibitions between 1962 to 1965. Later that same year she moved permanently to New York, where she would become affiliated with Bykert Gallery. Here, her emblematic paintings gained recognition as her signature visual language. Remington spent the late sixties dividing her time between New York and Paris, where she had a well-received solo exhibition at Galerie Darthea Speyer. Throughout the 1970s, Remington continued to exhibit nationally and internationally, including a retrospective at the Newport Harbor Art Museum, California, in 1983 (now Orange County Museum of Art).
Since her passing in 2010, Remington’s paintings and drawings have been regularly included in major solo and group exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles, as well as Berlin, where a solo exhibition of her gestural work from the 1990s was exhibited at Kimmerich Gallery in 2018. Her work has also been featured in groundbreaking exhibitions such as the Denver Art Museum’s Women of Abstract Expressionism in 2016. Throughout her career Remington was the recipient of numerous grants and awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1984), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1979), and a Tamarind Fellowship (1973), among others. She was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1999 and received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant that same year.
Deborah Remington: A Survey is curated by Nancy Lim in collaboration with the Deborah Remington Charitable Trust for the Visual Arts, New York, NY. https://deborahremington.com.
Major Support is provided by the Deborah Remington Charitable Trust for the Visual Arts and its curator, Margaret Berenson.
Nancy Lim is Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where she focuses on postwar and contemporary California art. She is co-curator of Mythos, Psyche, Eros: Jess and California (2019) and the 2019 SECA Art Award Exhibition. She contributed to the retrospectives of Bruce Conner (2016–17) and Vija Celmins (2018–19), and has organized collection exhibitions including Between Two Worlds (2017–18) and Stranger in a Strange Land: Art of California (2018). Prior to SFMOMA, she served as Asian Art Curatorial Fellow at the Guggenheim Museum, and as Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.