Pure Form | David Zwirner
A detail from a painting by Mary Corse, called Untitled (White Diamond, Negative Stripe), dated 1965.

Pure Form

David Zwirner is pleased to present Pure Form, an exhibition that explores the formal qualities of abstraction, on view at the gallery’s 69th Street location. 

This exhibition highlights a variety of ways modern and contemporary artists have expanded the boundaries of art by exploring the inherent qualities of their media, materials, and forms. Some of the included artists sought purity of expression through their singular dedication to their chosen medium. Others challenged medium specificity while engaging the expressive and experiential potential of methodically reduced forms and unembellished surfaces.

 

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Image: Mary Corse, Untitled (White Diamond, Negative Stripe), 1965 (detail)

The 69th Street gallery is open to the public with a limited number of visitors allowed into the exhibition spaces at a time, in accordance with city guidelines.


Tuesday to Friday, advance appointments are recommended but not required.

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“The art-maker—in my case, the painter—has to try to build work so that it culminates and manifests into providing a transforming experience.”

—Suzan Frecon

Pure Form resonates with the ethos of our 69th Street gallery, where smaller spaces offer a more intimate environment for exploring the program, as well as opportunities to present historical exhibitions and special projects.

Works by Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, and Ray Johnson were featured in the inaugural 2017 show at this space, which explored the aesthetic and personal connections forged between these artists at Black Mountain College in the late 1940s—a period that anticipated the formal concerns each was to pursue in works such as those presented in Pure Form.

An installation view of an exhibition titled Pure Form at David Zwirner in New York, in 2021.

Installation view, Pure Form, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

Installation view, Pure Form, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

“Within a fantasia of color, Frecon suspends the force of her structure. Offsetting the unseen mathematical foundation, her visible surface is organic and irregular.… What began as a logical geometrical structure has become suspended in a web of living sensation. Her composition, like [Barnett] Newman’s, may well be experienced as anti-composition. It is and is not.”

—Richard Shiff, “Suspension,” in Suzan Frecon: painting, 2017

An installation view of works on paper as part of the exhibition Pure Form at David Zwirner in New York in January 2021.

An installation view of works on paper by the artists featured in Pure Form, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

An installation view of works on paper by the artists featured in Pure Form, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

Untitled belongs to Carol Bove’s series of small- and large-scale sculptures composed of brass cubes on a rough concrete base. This intricate arrangement evokes mathematical models, complex geometric forms, and modern architectural structures.

Carol Bove

Untitled, 2014
Concrete and brass
20 5/8 x 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches (52.4 x 29.8 x 29.8 cm)

“I’m interested in pedestals, what they are ontologically and what they suggest about reality. I can see the persistence of platonic philosophy in our current set of assumptions about the world. Pedestals say, Here’s a different realm, a platonic realm.… And once something goes on a pedestal, it’s not a normal thing.… That’s how I understand the temple of the gallery space.”

—Carol Bove in conversation with Johanna Burton, in Carol Bove: Ten Hours, 2019

A detail from a work by Anni Albers, titled DR XVI (B), dated 1974.

Anni Albers, DR XVI (B), 1974 (detail)

Anni Albers, DR XVI (B), 1974 (detail)

A page from Anni Albers's Notebook showing diagrams for prints.

A page from Anni Albers's notebook

A page from Anni Albers's notebook

A latex paint, paper, cardboard, and wood painting by Jan Schoonhoven, titled R71-17, dated 1971.

Anni Albers

DR XVI (B), 1974
Ink on paper
14 5/8 x 11 3/4 inches (37.1 x 29.8 cm)
Framed: 24 7/8 x 17 1/2 inches (63.2 x 44.5 cm)

“You can’t avoid being subjective. But a kind of objectifying happens when you have to concentrate on the demands of the materials and the technique.… I was trying to build something out of dots, out of lines, out of a structure built of those elemental elements and not the transposition into an idea.”

—Anni Albers in conversation with Sevim Fesci, 1968

A black acrylic yarn sculpture by Fred Sandback, titled Untitled (Sculptural Study, Six-part Vertical Construction), dated 1993 and 2011.

Fred Sandback

Untitled (Sculptural Study, Six-part Vertical Construction), 1993/2011
Black acrylic yarn
Situational: spatial relationships established by the artist; overall dimensions vary with each installation
“I wanted all the positive aspects of sculpture without the jumble that it implied … to work in a volumetric way.… What I’m doing here is a construction of an intuitive type.… My intention is to utilize the space, to bring about a co-production between it and my intentions, to respect its particularities.”



—Fred Sandback in an interview with Sans Titre, Bulletin d’Art Contemporain, 1992
An installation view of an exhibition titled Pure Form at David Zwirner in New York, in 2021.

Installation view, Pure Form, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

Installation view, Pure Form, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

An installation view of an exhibition titled Pure Form at David Zwirner in New York, in 2021.

Installation view, Pure Form, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

Installation view, Pure Form, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

The history of galleries showing abstract and formalist art in Manhattan’s Upper East Side in the latter part of the twentieth century includes Leo Castelli’s presentation of works by Dan Flavin and Donald Judd on 77th Street. Primary Structures: Younger American and British Sculptors, shown at the Jewish Museum on 92nd Street in 1966, was the first American museum exhibition to explore formal approaches now described as minimalism.

An oil painting on canvas by Yayoi Kusama, titled No. O.A., dated 1960.

Yayoi Kusama

No. O.A., 1960
Oil on canvas
24 x 28 3/8 inches (60.9 x 72 cm)
Framed: 29 1/4 x 33 3/4 inches (74.3 x 85.7 cm)

“The allover, monochrome style of [Yayoi Kusama’s] Infinity Net paintings was … a way of restraining excessive expression, but in spite of this ascetic approach, minute variations in the dense loops of the net create an elegant effect of shimmering vibrations and seductive glimpses of depth in the pictorial space.”

—Akira Tatehata, “Love and Salvation: Homage to Yayoi Kusama,” in Yayoi Kusama: I Who Have Arrived in Heaven, 2014

“[Ray Johnson] created a chain of works that succeeded in blurring the categorical distinctions between life and art, fact and fiction, abstraction and representation.”

—Donna De Salvo, “Correspondences,” in Ray Johnson: Correspondences, 1999

An untitled sculpture by Donald Judd dated 1991.

Donald Judd

Untitled, 1991
Clear and black anodized aluminum

9 7/8 x 39 3/8 x 9 7/8 inches (25 x 100 x 25 cm)

“Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface.… The use of three dimensions makes it possible to use all sorts of materials and colors. Most of the work involves new materials, either recent inventions or things not used before in art.… They are specific.… The form of a work and its materials are closely related.”


 
—Donald Judd, “Specific Objects,” 1964
An acrylic painting on canvas by Mary Corse, titled, Untitled (White Diamond, Negative Stripe), dated 1965.

Mary Corse

Untitled (White Diamond, Negative Stripe), 1965
Acrylic on canvas
84 7/8 x 84 7/8 inches (215.6 x 215.6 cm)

“I continued painting abstractly. Then at some point—I think it was around 1964—I started getting rid of more and more and I got very minimal.… I was trying to put the light in the painting, even though I didn’t realize it.… For at least ten years I did only white paintings, starting with reduced, minimal, shaped canvases.”

—Mary Corse in conversation with Alex Bacon, 2015

A hanging nickel plated wire sculpture by Ruth Asawa, titled, Untitled (S.692, Hanging Five-Lobed, Single-Layered Continuous Form), circa 1958.

Ruth Asawa

Untitled (S.692, Hanging Five-Lobed, Single-Layered Continuous Form), c. 1958
Hanging sculpture—nickel plated wire
77 x 12 1/4 x 12 1/4 inches (195.6 x 31.1 x 31.1 cm)
“I was interested in [the looped-wire technique] because of the economy of a line, making something in space, enclosing it without blocking it out. It’s still transparent. I realized that if I was going to make these forms, which interlock and interweave, it can only be done with a line because a line can go anywhere.”
 
—Ruth Asawa, quoted in Daniell Cornell, “The Art of Space: Ruth Asawa’s Sculptural Installations,” in The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air, 2006
A latex paint, paper, cardboard, and wood painting by Jan Schoonhoven, titled R71-17, dated 1971.

R71-17, 1971
Latex paint, paper, cardboard, and wood
44 x 33 1/2 inches (111.8 x 85.1 cm)
Framed: 51 3/8 x 41 inches (130.5 x 104.1 cm)

“In my works I’m concerned with a form of organization: an organization of the elements that does not alter them but rather strengthens their essence.”

—Jan Schoonhoven, quoted in Beat Wismer, “Balanced Polarities: Reflections on Jan J. Schoonhoven,” in Jan Schoonhoven, 1999

“I think that I’m one of those people who, for better or for worse, really believes in some of the simplest materials being the best to think through.”

—Dan Flavin in conversation with Tiffany Bell, 1982

A cool white fluorescent light sculpture by Dan Flavin, titled "monument" for V. Tatlin, dated 1964.

Dan Flavin

"monument" for V. Tatlin, 1964
cool white fluorescent light
8 ft. (244 cm) high
An installation view of an exhibition titled Pure Form at David Zwirner in New York, in 2021.

Installation view, Pure Form, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

Installation view, Pure Form, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

An installation view of an exhibition titled Pure Form at David Zwirner in New York, in 2021.

Installation view, Pure Form, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

Installation view, Pure Form, David Zwirner, New York, 2021

Inquire about the Artists and Works in the Exhibition

An untitled clear and black anodized aluminum sculpture by Donald Judd, dated 1991.

Donald Judd

Untitled, 1991
Clear and black anodized aluminum
9 7/8 x 39 3/8 x 9 7/8 inches (25 x 100 x 25 cm)
A black acrylic yarn sculpture by Fred Sandback, titled Untitled (Sculptural Study, Six-part Vertical Construction), dated 1993 and 2011.

Fred Sandback

Untitled (Sculptural Study, Six-part Vertical Construction), 1993/2011
Black acrylic yarn
Situational: spatial relationships established by the artist; overall dimensions vary with each installation
An acrylic painting on canvas by Mary Corse, titled, Untitled (White Diamond, Negative Stripe), dated 1965.

Mary Corse

Untitled (White Diamond, Negative Stripe), 1965
Acrylic on canvas
84 7/8 x 84 7/8 inches (215.6 x 215.6 cm)
A hanging nickel plated wire sculpture by Ruth Asawa, titled, Untitled (S.692, Hanging Five-Lobed, Single-Layered Continuous Form), circa 1958.

Ruth Asawa

Untitled (S.692, Hanging Five-Lobed, Single-Layered Continuous Form), c. 1958
Hanging sculpture—nickel plated wire
77 x 12 1/4 x 12 1/4 inches (195.6 x 31.1 x 31.1 cm)
An oil painting on board by Ray Johnson, titled Seven Centers of a Ladder, circa 1949 to 1951.

Ray Johnson

Seven Centers of a Ladder, c. 1949-1951
Oil on board
40 1/4 x 15 inches (102.2 x 38.1 cm)
Framed: 41 x 15 5/8 inches (104.1 x 39.7 cm)
An oil painting on canvas by Yayoi Kusama, titled No. O.A., dated 1960.

Yayoi Kusama

No. O.A., 1960
Oil on canvas
24 x 28 3/8 inches (60.9 x 72 cm)
Framed: 29 1/4 x 33 3/4 inches (74.3 x 85.7 cm)
A latex paint, paper, cardboard, and wood painting by Jan Schoonhoven, titled R71-17, dated 1971.

R71-17, 1971
Latex paint, paper, cardboard, and wood
44 x 33 1/2 inches (111.8 x 85.1 cm)
Framed: 51 3/8 x 41 inches (130.5 x 104.1 cm)
A latex paint, paper, cardboard, and wood painting by Jan Schoonhoven, titled R71-17, dated 1971.

Anni Albers

DR XVI (B), 1974
Ink on paper
14 5/8 x 11 3/4 inches (37.1 x 29.8 cm)
Framed: 24 7/8 x 17 1/2 inches (63.2 x 44.5 cm)
An oil painting on linen by Suzan Frecon, titled snaefellsjoekull (dark reddish brown violet earth) northern light, dated 2018.

Suzan Frecon

snaefellsjoekull (dark reddish brown violet earth) northern light, 2018
Oil on linen
Overall: 84 1/8 x 104 inches (213.7 x 264.2 cm)
Panel, each: 84 1/8 x 52 inches (213.7 x 132.1 cm)
An untitled concrete and brass sculpture by Carol Bove, dated 2014.

Carol Bove

Untitled, 2014
Concrete and brass
20 5/8 x 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches (52.4 x 29.8 x 29.8 cm)
A cool white fluorescent light sculpture by Dan Flavin, titled "monument" for V. Tatlin, dated 1964.

Dan Flavin

"monument" for V. Tatlin, 1964
cool white fluorescent light
8 ft. (244 cm) high

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