The painter Ed Clark, whose trailblazing career has been on a roll in recent years, is now represented worldwide by the powerhouse gallery Hauser & Wirth, which will have its first show with the artist in New York at its Chelsea location in September.
Clark, who is 93 and based in Detroit, has made his name with pictures of free-flowing color, which he produces by pushing paint with a broom—a process by which a handful of colors and gestures become far more than the sum of their parts. He has also generally been credited with being the first American artist to show a shaped canvas, in 1957.
The September exhibition with Hauser & Wirth will focus on work from 2000 until almost the present, Marc Payot, a partner and vice president of the gallery, said in an interview. “The recent work is incredibly free and radical. With the show in New York we want to really activate the museums, the curators, the critical thinking, to work toward a strong institutional presence.”
Clark was born in New Orleans in 1926, studied in Chicago, and became interested in abstract art while living in Paris in the 1950s. He returned to New York in the mid-’50s, as Abstract Expressionism was in full swing. Like many fellow African-American artists, his art has long been marginalized in histories of the movement’s development.
Clark’s prominence has risen, though, with works entering major institutional collections in recent years, and at the moment, he is included in the essential touring exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983,” which is currently at the Broad museum in Los Angeles. Last year, Mnuchin Gallery in New York presented a survey of his work, and in 2014 and 2017, the nearby Tilton Gallery staged solo shows. The 2014 outing was curated by David Hammons, a longtime supporter of the artist who also currently has a show at Hauser & Wirth’s Los Angeles branch.
Clark’s move to Hauser & Wirth comes as many the biggest galleries are adding talent at a rapid pace. Between January 2016 to May 2019, Hauser & Wirth added 24 artists and estates to its roster.