Ronnie Landfield, American (1947 - )

Ronnie Landfield

Ronnie Landfield (born January 9, 1947 in The Bronx, New York) is an American abstract painter. During his early career from the mid-1960s through the 1970s his paintings were associated with Lyrical Abstraction, (related to Postminimalism, Color Field painting, and Abstract expressionism), and he was represented by the David Whitney Gallery and the André Emmerich Gallery.
Landfield is best known for his abstract landscape paintings, and has held more than sixty-five solo exhibitions and nearly two hundred group exhibitions. In 2011 he was described by the LewAllen Gallerie as "at the forefront of contemporary art...one of the best painters in America."

Landfield first exhibited in New York in 1962. He continued his study of painting by visiting major museum and gallery exhibitions in New York during the early sixties and by taking painting and drawing classes at the Art Students League of New York and in Woodstock, New York. He graduated from the High School of Art and Design in June 1963. He briefly attending the Kansas City Art Institute before returning to New York in November 1963. At sixteen Landfield rented his first loft at 6 Bleecker Street near the Bowery (sublet with a friend from the figurative painter Leland Bell), during a period when his abstract expressionist oil paintings took on hard-edged and large painterly shapes. In February 1964, Landfield traveled to Los Angeles living in Berkeley where he began painting Hard-edge abstractions primarily painted with acrylic. He briefly attended the University of California, Berkeley and the San Francisco Art Institute before returning to New York in July 1965.

From 1964 to 1966 he experimented with minimal art, sculpture, hard-edge geometric painting, found objects, and finally began a series of 15 - 9' x 6' mystical "border paintings". After a serious setback in February 1966 when his loft at 496 Broadway burned down, he returned to painting in April 1966 by sharing a loft with his friend Dan Christensen at 4 Great Jones Street. The Border Painting series was completed in July 1966, and soon after architect Philip Johnson acquired Tan Painting for the permanent collection of The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in Lincoln, Nebraska.

In late 1966 through 1968 he began exhibiting his paintings and works on paper in leading galleries and museums. Landfield moved into his loft at 94 Bowery in July 1967; there, he continued to experiment with rollers, staining, hard-edge borders, and painted unstretched canvases on the floor for the first time. Briefly in 1967-1968 he worked part-time for Dick Higgins and the Something Else Press.

Landfield was part of a large circle of young artists who had come to Manhattan during the 1960s. Peter Young, Dan Christensen, Peter Reginato, Eva Hesse, Carlos Villa, David R. Prentice, Kenneth Showell, David Novros, Joan Jonas, Michael Steiner, Frosty Myers, Tex Wray, Larry Zox, Larry Poons, Robert Povlich, Neil Williams (artist), Carl Gliko, Billy Hoffman, Lee Lozano, Pat Lipsky, John Griefen, Brice Marden, James Monte, John Chamberlain, Donald Judd, Frank Stella, Carl Andre, Dan Graham, Robert Smithson, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Kenneth Noland, Clement Greenberg, Bob Neuwirth, Joseph Kosuth, Mark di Suvero, Brigid Berlin, Lawrence Weiner, Rosemarie Castoro, Marjorie Strider, Dorothea Rockburne, Leo Valledor, Peter Forakis and Marisol were just a few of the artists and writers he befriended and saw regularly at Max's Kansas City - the favorite place for artists in New York City during the 1960s.

By 1970 Landfield was recognized as one of the first painters to have led the "movement away from the geometric, hard-edge, and minimal, toward more lyrical, sensuous, romantic abstractions in colors which were softer and more vibrant." His paintings were part of the Whitney Museum of American Art's Annual exhibitions in 1967 and 1969, and he was included in the first Whitney Biennial in 1973. During the late 1960s through the early '70s his work was included in group exhibitions at the Park Place Gallery, the Bianchini Gallery, the Bykert Gallery, the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts (formerly Stanford University Museum of Art) amongst other places. In 1967-1968 two drawings were reproduced in S.M.S. III by the Letter Edged in Black Press, and he was included in New York 10 1969, a portfolio of prints published by Tanglewood Press.

In October 1969 he had his first one-man exhibition at the David Whitney Gallery in NYC, featuring works of that period which were partially inspired by Chinese Landscape painting. His painting Diamond Lake 1969, 108 x 168 inches, was acquired from Philip Johnson by the Museum of Modern Art in 1972 and was installed in the lobby of MoMA for several months. His painting Elijah 1969, 108 x 55 inches was later exhibited in Beijing, China in the early 1990s.

Landfield traveled throughout the southwest in 1973 and again in 1975. With his wife and artist friends Peter Young and Carmen Megeath he camped, lived and painted dozens of paintings on canvas and limestone in the mountains outside Zion National Park in southern Utah. He taught Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts from 1975 until 1989. For ten years from 1975 until 1984 four of Landfield's paintings from the collection of Philip Johnson were installed in the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building on Park Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets in Midtown Manhattan, on the so-called Mark Rothko wall.

Spending the early summer of 1980 on the Caribbean island of St. Barts Landfield produced a series of india ink and acrylic paintings on paper there. Throughout the later 1980s and 1990s he often spent summers in various towns throughout the western Catskill Mountains painting abstractions and abstract landscapes in oil paint and acrylic. During the 1980s and early '90s he showed his paintings with the Charles Cowles Gallery and Stephen Haller Fine Arts in New York City. During this period Landfield exhibited his paintings widely. He had solo exhibitions or was included in group exhibitions in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC and Zurich, to name a few places. In 1989-1990 Landfield began correspondence with the late art historian, Professor Daniel Robbins, about the neglected historical understanding of abstract painting in New York since the mid-1960s. Landfield began extensive writing and lecturing about abstract painting from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s.

In 1994 Landfield presided over two public panel discussions at the New York Studio School and the Tenri Institute both in Manhattan called Cool and Collected or Too Hot to Handle. In 1995 he curated Seven Painters at the Nicholas/Alexander Gallery in SoHo, an exhibition that featured seven important abstract painters whose careers began in the mid to late 1960s, some of whom hadn't been shown for many years. In 1997 he aided colleague Ronald Davis's creation of an educational website highlighting abstract art from the 1960s.[10] He was represented by the Salander/O'Reilly Gallery in New York from 1997 until 2007. In October 2005 he had a solo exhibition of his paintings accompanied by a solo show of sculpture by Peter Reginato at the Heidi Cho Gallery in Chelsea.

In 2007 Landfield had a retrospective exhibition Ronnie Landfield: Paintings From Five Decades, at the Butler Institute of American Art Later that year, he had an exhibition of recent paintings entitled Toward Monochrome at the Heidi Cho Gallery in Manhattan. Landfield has exhibited his work in important institutions and galleries for nearly five decades. Currently he lives and works in TriBeCa, and teaches at The Art Students League of New York; during a recent lecture there he said "It's important for maximum freedom for an artist, to stay under the radar for as long as possible". Since 2007, his work has been exhibited at the Stephen Haller Gallery in New York City and LewAllen Galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He draws, paints and writes left-handed. Landfield's two sons are artists who live in New York, Matthew Hart Landfield is an actor/writer/director and Noah Landfield is a painter/musician.
At the time of his exhibition at the Butler Institute of American Art in 2007, Landfield was referred to as "one of the best painters in America and has been since he first came on the scene in the 1960s." Louis Zona, director of the institute, says "To stand in front of a Landfield painting is to be transported into a world where color feeds upon color and every inch of the canvas is considered ... Ronnie Landfield is, pure and simple, one of the best painters in America."
Landfield's show Where it All Began was the debut exhibition at the gallery space of the High School of Art and Design in the fall of 2012.

Permanent Collections

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Museum of Modern Art
The Whitney Museum of American Art
The National Gallery of Art
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
The Norton Simon Museum
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Walker Art Center
The Seattle Art Museum
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art
The Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute
The Des Moines Art Center
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery
The Butler Institute of American Art
The Art Gallery of Ontario
The Allen Memorial Art Museum
The Indianapolis Museum of Art
The Delaware Art Museum
The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
New York University
The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, and
The Boca Raton Museum of Art, amongst numerous others.

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