Studio: Nate Lowman | David Zwirner

This edition of Studio debuts a new body of work by Nate Lowman, also on view at The Armory Show, that builds upon the artist’s distinctive process by introducing a new gestural technique to his practice. The paintings take imagery mined from the news and art history as a starting point to create new narratives, and capture the surprising, sublime beauty in what is often dark subject matter.

Nate Lowman’s studio wall featuring paintings and works on paper that illustrate a new direction for the artist. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges

Nate Lowman’s studio wall featuring paintings and works on paper that illustrate a new direction for the artist. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges

Night Watch catalyzed a new technique for the artist: rather than covering the work with his trademark gradient of black dots that recall the blur of an enlarged Xerox, Lowman uses gestural markings that leave open spaces for the luminosity and vibrant color of the sky and moon to shine through and engage with vivid areas of wild abstraction.

A detail of night watch

Night Watch, 2021

A painting by Nate Lowman, titled Night Watch, dated 2021.

Nate Lowman

Night Watch, 2021
Oil and alkyd on linen
86 1/8 x 39 1/8 inches (218.8 x 99.4 cm)

In these new works, Lowman projects multiple layers of imagery onto his canvases. Here, he combines hand-drawn markings, a photo from a newspaper advertisement, and painting.

A detail of Nate Lowman’s workspace featuring reference images, drawings, and color studies. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges

A detail of Nate Lowman’s workspace featuring reference images, drawings, and color studies. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges

Lowman’s process reveals traces of his studio practice through the oil, ink, and stray marks that accumulate over time on his canvases.

Detail of Nate Lowman's work Don't Forget to Howl at the Moon, 2021

Don’t Forget to Howl at the Moon, 2021

A painting Nate Lowman, titled Don't Forget to Howl at the Moon, dated 2021.

Nate Lowman

Don't Forget to Howl at the Moon, 2021
Oil, alkyd, and gesso on linen
50 1/4 x 24 5/8 inches (127.6 x 62.5 cm)

The works are drawn from images that Lowman keeps in his archive: photos of the Bikini Atoll nuclear explosions in the 1940s, US drones flying above Pakistan in the early 2000s, volcanic eruptions as seen in the news and art history, and ads clipped from newspapers.

Detail of Where is Your Rupture no. 75, 2021 by Nate Lowman

Where is Your Rupture no. 75, 2021

A painting by Nate Lowman, titled Where is Your Rupture no. 75, dated 2021.

Nate Lowman

Where is Your Rupture no. 75, 2021
Oil, alkyd, and gesso on linen
32 5/8 x 49 5/8 inches (82.9 x 126 cm)

“2021 has seemed to burst with a chorus of volcanic eruptions. Even (or maybe especially) from afar, these eruptions make you feel connected to history. Whatever happens just above the tectonic plates leading to a rupture that sends lava out of the top of the cone is strangely grounding. But then the ground itself is on fire and you also have to deal with the extreme poetics of fire raining from the sky. So it’s devastatingly creative.”

—Nate Lowman

A painting by Nate Lowman, titled Frankenstein Vesuvio di Caffi number 2, dated 2021.

Frankenstein Vesuvio di Caffi no. 2, 2021

A painting by Nate Lowman, titled Frankenstein Vesuvio di Caffi no. 2, dated 2021.

Nate Lowman

Frankenstein Vesuvio di Caffi no. 2, 2021
Oil and alkyd on linen
72 1/4 x 114 1/8 inches (183.5 x 289.9 cm)

Traditionally Lowman has not worked on paper. Here, he debuts his first series in this medium.

Paper Vesuvio di Caffi, 2021

A painting by Nate Lowman, titled Paper Vesuvio di Caffi, dated 2021.

Nate Lowman

Paper Vesuvio di Caffi, 2021
Oil on paper
22 1/2 x 29 7/8 inches (57.2 x 75.9 cm)

In keeping with his practice of combining and reusing imagery, the artist drew from various pictures by the nineteenth-century Italian painter Ippolito Caffi—found in a book of Caffi’s studies of Mount Vesuvius that Lowman discovered—to assemble sky, volcano, and water into this new work.

A view of Nate Lowman’s studio featuring an open book with Ippolito Caffi’s color studies of Mount Vesuvius. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges

A view of Nate Lowman’s studio featuring an open book with Ippolito Caffi’s color studies of Mount Vesuvius. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges

Detail view of Paper Bikini by Nate Lowman, 2021

 

 

Paper Bikini, 2021

A mixed media artwork by Nate Lowman, titled Paper Bikini, dated 2021.

Nate Lowman

Paper Bikini, 2021
Oil on paper
23 5/8 x 30 1/4 inches (60 x 76.8 cm)
This image depicts a nuclear blast in Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, dated July 1, 1946

Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, July 1, 1946. Photo by Underwood Archives/UIG/Bridgeman Images

Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, July 1, 1946. Photo by Underwood Archives/UIG/Bridgeman Images

Lowman clipped this image—which has come to represent the 1940s and ’50s nuclear blasts in the Bikini islands—from a newspaper article. The landscape is still uninhabitable an entire generation later.

A detail of Nate Lowman’s workspace featuring an archival reference image, color chart, and the drawings he projects onto his canvas. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges

A detail of Nate Lowman’s workspace featuring an archival reference image, color chart, and the drawings he projects onto his canvas. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges

A detail view of Paper-Seltzer, 2021

Paper-Seltzer, 2021

A mixed media artwork by Nate Lowman, titled Paper-Seltzer, dated 2021.

Nate Lowman

Paper-Seltzer, 2021
Oil on paper
30 1/8 x 22 3/4 inches (76.5 x 57.8 cm)
A detail from the work titled Alka Seltzer by Roy Lichtenstein, dated 1966

Roy Lichtenstein, Alka Seltzer, 1966 (detail). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein, Alka Seltzer, 1966 (detail). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Drawn from a stock photo in a magazine article about pain, Paper-Seltzer features strong graphic lines and commercial imagery that references the pop imagery of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.

Kill the Pain no. 2, 2021

A painting by Nate Lowman, titled Kill the Pain no. 2, dated 2021.

Nate Lowman

Kill the Pain no. 2, 2021
Oil and alkyd on linen
58 1/8 x 41 5/8 inches (147.6 x 105.7 cm)
Detail view of You Can't Win by Nate Lowman, 2021

You Can’t Win, 2021

A painting by Nate Lowman, titled You Can't Win, dated 2021.

Nate Lowman

You Can't Win, 2021
Oil and alkyd on linen
62 1/8 x 72 1/8 inches (157.8 x 183.2 cm)

This work is based on one of Hermann Rorschach’s original tests, a subject matter that Andy Warhol made famous through his 1984 series.

A detail view from the work titled Rorschach by Andy Warhol, Rorschach, dated 1984

Andy Warhol, Rorschach, 1984. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Andy Warhol, Rorschach, 1984. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Remote Control (Scribble), 2021

A painting by Nate Lowman, titled Remote Control (Scribble), dated 2021.

Nate Lowman

Remote Control (Scribble), 2021
Oil and alkyd on linen
48 x 84 inches (121.9 x 213.4 cm)
View of a work in progress in Nate Lowman’s studio in 2021

View of a work in progress in Nate Lowman’s studio, 2021. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges 

View of a work in progress in Nate Lowman’s studio, 2021. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges 

Remote Control (Scribble) is based on a 2014 photograph of a drone flying over the mountains of North Waziristan, Pakistan.

Dropcloth Scribble Drone, 2021

A painting by Nate Lowman, titled Dropcloth Scribble Drone, dated 2021.

Nate Lowman

Dropcloth Scribble Drone, 2021
Oil and alkyd on linen
24 1/2 x 50 1/2 inches (62.2 x 128.3 cm)

Nate Lowman’s studio floor featuring a drop cloth, a material that he often repurposes as canvas. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges

Nate Lowman’s studio floor featuring a drop cloth, a material that he often repurposes as canvas. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges

“It’s what you think painting is supposed to be like: dirty, messy, fun, bright and wild, with big swaths of color, but it tightens up into an iconic image in the end. It engages the language of wild abstraction and also the polar opposite, pop, and it’s very rewarding to do.”

—Nate Lowman

Nate Lowman in his studio, 2021. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges

Nate Lowman in his studio, 2021. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges

You can see these paintings in person at The Armory Show, September 9–12, 2021. 

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