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  • David Eichholtz

Small Works: Color Abstractions by Swain, Fleming, Ideal, DiJulio, Wheeler and Dagley

Presenting a selection of smaller works by artists who explore color and non-objective abstraction Geometric, Hard Edge and Gestural through a variety of strategies and methodologies ranging from grids and lines, to pattern and process as well as brushy strokes and collage. The results are masterful studies in color adjacency and interaction that create spectacular compositions and challenge the viewer’s perception of color and spacial geometry. The artworks span from the 1960s through 2018 by artists: Robert Swain, Dean Fleming, Phillis Ideal, Charles DiJulio , Beate Wheeler and Mark Dagley.

Bios for the artists are below the images at the bottom of this email.

Please let me know if you would like additional images and information for any of these artworks or artists.

Robert Swain Untitled Study 6x6-3x23, 2016 Acrylic on canvas 30 x 30 “

Charles DiJulio Untitled, ca 1980 Acrylic on canvas 21 x 21 “

Dean Fleming Nov 63, 1963 Acrylic on canvas 20 x 20 “

Phillis Ideal Color Construct Series 14, 2018 Acrylic collage spray paint on panel resin 14 x 11 “

Mark Dagley Seven-Color Orb, 1999 Oil and graphite 22 x 22 “

Beate Wheeler Untitled (BW-5335), 1986 Oil on canvas 20 x 24 "


About Robert Swain:

Robert Swain has spent his entire career devising a unique system for organizing over two thousand colors and studying how humans interact with and feel color. His approach to color is less theoretical and more empirical as evidenced by his highly systematic approach to painting over the past four plus decades. Through his rigorous evaluations, Swain has gone beyond how we perceive the physical effects of color to how we experience the emotional and physiological sensations produced by color in certain arrangements and configurations. Thus, his paintings go beyond physical observation to a phenomenological affect. Robert Swain received a BA Degree from the American University in Washington, D. C. in 1964. Currently, he lives and works in New York City and is a Professor at Hunter College. He has had eighteen solo exhibitions, the most recent being a major retrospective at Hunter College / Times Square Gallery in 2010. His work has been included in over sixty group exhibitions, including The Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others. In 1968 he was included in The Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Thirty-First Biennial and again in 1998 for The Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Forty-Fifth Biennial. Swain’s artwork is represented in over 284 private and public collections, including The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Detroit Institute of Art, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, The Milwaukee Art Center, The Everson Art Museum, The Denver Art Museum, The Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


About Charles DiJulio:

Charles DiJulio fostered an extensive career that not only included exhibiting works for over four decades, but also included being a key member in two prominent associations: Criss Cross and the avant- garde artist commune Drop City (The artists Gene Bernofsky, JoAnn Bernofsky, Richard Kallweit and Clark Richert founded the site in 1965). His work has been exhibited nationally and he had a strong presence in New York City since 1978. DiJulio’s work evolved over time from loose action like paintings to his better-known style of systemic painting. Largely influenced by the dynamic relationship between structural patterning and the freedom vibrant color palettes offer.

Criss Cross, the artist collective’s platform was centered on the idea of creating synergy within works through systematic abstract patterning that was non- decorative. This definition precisely fit the format of DiJulio’s work and thought process, hence his heavy involvement from 1974 to 1981. His works during the era of Criss Cross where specifically grounded in simple interwoven structures that were, in a sense, pure patterning. The compositional layout of these pieces can be somewhat ridged with DiJulio’s precision line work that visually alludes to his immense craftsmanship. However, this aspect is remedied and resolved by incorporating dramatic color shifts that explore the palettes of color field artists. The end result of using both these tactics is a massive work composed of bold ribbons of color which gracefully weave themselves across the canvas. Mesmerizing complementary colors compel any viewer to trace their path through the composition in a near hypnotic state. The vibrant hues reverberate against one another and cause a seemingly three dimensional twist to the flat surface. One motif that the artist has noted as a remerging characteristic within his pieces is the wave like movement. (Courtesy


About Dean Fleming:

Dean Fleming studied at the California School of Fine Arts with Elmer Bischoff and Frank Lobdell. There, he met and developed life-long friendships with Peter Forakis, Leo Valledor and Mark di Suvero. He shared a studio with Manuel Neri, Joan Brown, Bill Brown and Forakis and “poured” himself “into the West Coast version of abstract expressionism”. During that period he regularly exhibited at the Six Gallery and Batman Gallery in San Francisco. Fleming moved to New York in 1961 and was a founding member of the Park Place Gallery, an important artist collective and exhibition venue for experimental art in New York in the 1960s. The founding members, were interested in working in diverse materials and approaches in painting and sculpture to explore their mutual interest in literal and illusory space, music and social concerns. Fleming’s painting at that time was minimalist, hard edge and geometric with a reductive palette. In 1966, he was included in the important exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, “Systemic Painting”, organized by Lawrence Alloway. Moving to the Rocky Mountains in 1967 and founding Libre, an artist community, Fleming started a new chapter in his career. His extensive international travels to Europe, Northern Africa, Latin America and Asia and fascination with diverse cultures and artistic practices continued to inspire and inform his artwork as he explored gestural abstraction, calligraphic and Zen-inspired gestures, and the symbology and natural dyes of Indigenous peoples in North and South America.

Fleming’s artworks are included in the collections of the Oakland Museum, California; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; Allentown Art Museum, Pennsylvania; Denver Museum of Art, Larry Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut; San Francisco Art Institute, California; Corcoran Gallery, Washington D.C.; Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, among others


About Phillis Ideal:

Phillis Ideal’s work is about the materiality of paint which represents a wide range of abstraction: layers of transparent and thick, brushed and sprayed paint; collaged fragments imbedded in medium; zeroxed rasta dots, computer graphics, shards of other drawings; as well as, large gestural brush strokes. Thus, the scope is broad and the paintings exist as both a tangible material and as a catalog of visual language of different styles of image making. Some paintings are more complex in combining reference than others. Her studio practice underscores a playful and imaginative setting in which many moods, techniques and art history can coexist, referencing the vastness of the operations of abstraction. These paintings are moments in an open process that experiments with both formal relationships and chance elements to create meaning. In this work, she is interested in testing the system of making art within the mind of the artist and the viewer. These paintings are open to visual perception and stand on their own to engage an emotional and intellectual response. Phillis Ideal has exhibited in major museums and galleries in San Francisco, Santa Fe and New York City. Her work has been shown and collected in many private, corporate and public collections such as MH de Young Museum, Oakland Museum of Fine Arts, Newport Harbor Art Museum and Fine Arts Museum of Santa Fe. She was represented by Rosenberg and Kaufman Fine Arts in New York City, as well as Linda Durham Contemporary Art Gallery and Chiaroscuro In Santa Fe. In recent years she has exhibited her work in Otranto, Italy, Berlin and Paris. Her academic experience includes teaching at San Francisco State, UC Berkeley, and Sarah Lawrence.


About Beate Wheeler (1932-1917): Beate Wheeler, born in Germany in 1932, fled with her family in 1938 and arrived at Ellis Island in New York. She studied at Manumit in Pawling, New York until 1945, an experimental Christian socialist boarding school for refugee children. After receiving her BFA degree at Syracuse in 1954, Wheeler earned her MFA at University of California, Berkeley under Abstract Expressionist painter, Milton Resnick. While in the Bay area, she met Mark di Suvero and the two moved to the East Village in New York. Together with Robert Beauchamp, Elaine de Kooning and Patricia Passlof, they formed the March Gallery, one of the eight galleries and artist cooperatives that were known as the 10th Street Galleries. Wheeler married the writer and artist Spencer Holst. They were some of the early residents at the Westbeth Artists Housing in New York’s West Village. Wheeler lived and worked there the rest of her life. She painted regularly and produced drawings and artworks for Spencer’s publications. She exhibited primarily at the Wesbeth galleries and had many dedicated private collectors, including Nelson A. Rockefeller. Following a 15-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, she passed away May 14, 2017.


About Mark Dagley

Mark Dagley (b. 1957, Washington D.C.) is a visual artist who studied painting and sculpture at the Corcoran School of Art, and painting, video and electronic music at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. He currently studies classical guitar privately and Music Theory in the evening division at The Juilliard School. Dagley has exhibited his work internationally for the past three decades, including in North America, Europe, and Australasia. During the 1980s, he was active in the East Village abstract painting scene and showed alongside other pioneering abstract painters, including Barry X Ball, Max Gimblett, Olivier Mosset, James Nares, Stephen Parrino, Li Trincere, and Alan Uglow, among many others. His first solo exhibition took place in 1987, at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York City. In 1993 Dagley had his first Museum exhibition at the Kunstverein St. Gallen, Switzerland. In the same year, he received his first major commission from Hoffman/LaRoche Pharmaceuticals: two wall reliefs, nine-foot square, which were installed in their new office building outside of Basel. His work was included in the groundbreaking group exhibition Post-Hypnotic, which traveled throughout the United States from 1999-2001. His work Concentric Sequence (1996) was featured on the cover of the exhibition catalog. During his career, Dagley has worked with a number of influential galleries worldwide, including Tony Shafrazi Gallery (NYC), Galerie Hans Strelow (Dusseldorf, Germany), Galeria Mar Estrada (Madrid, Spain), and Galerie Swart (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). More recently he has exhibited his work at Anna Kustera Gallery (NYC), The Shore Institute of the Contemporary Arts (Long Branch, NJ), The Suburban (Chicago, IL), Daniel Weinberg Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), Instituto de Artes Graficas (Oaxaca, Mexico), ParisCONCRET (Paris, France), Galeria Leyendecker (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain), and Musee des beaux-arts de La Chaux-de-Fonds (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland). His work can be found in the collections of the Cafritz Foundation, Collection Doberman, Oppenheim & Co, R.H. Peterson, University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, the Musée des Beaux Arts La Chaud de Fonds, Credit-Suisse, Hoffman/LaRoche, Henkel GmbH, EMI Madrid, Bloomingdales Corporation, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Buenos Aires and Muzeum umení Olomouc, Czech Republic.

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