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  • Writer's pictureDavid Eichholtz

Robert Swain’s Classic Color Grid Paintings, The Sensation of Color in the Five-foot and Six-foot Sq

Robert Swain Untitled, 5x5-3A, 2015 Acrylic on canvas 60 x 60“ Click here to view the artwork

ROBERT SWAIN The 5 x 5 and 6 x 6 Series of Grid Paintings

David Richard Gallery, LLC 211 East 121 ST | New York, NY 10035 P: (212) 882-1705 NOTE: Gallery observes the current pandemic safety protocols for New York City. The number of number people in the gallery at any one time will be limited and face coverings required for entry and at all times Private viewings are available by appointment, please call or email the gallery to schedule.

David Richard Gallery is pleased to present a selection of classic color grid paintings from Robert Swain’s 5x5 and 6x6 series. Meaning that each of the paintings is either five-foot or six-foot square with a grid composition comprised of geometric shapes that are twelve inches square. Many of the selections are from 2015 and 2016 as well as from 2020 when Swain revisited these series with a different and new color palette.

These are accessible sizes for most public collections and homes. The paintings have enough scale to provide an engaging and pleasant viewer experience that also interacts with the presentation space without overwhelming a room. Larger and monumental paintings are also available if needed for larger spaces and more immersive viewing experiences.

Robert Swain

Untitled, 5x5-21x29C, 2015

Acrylic on canvas

60 x 60“

Robert Swain

Untitled, 5x5-3x21, 2020

Acrylic on canvas

60 x 60“

About the Paintings of Robert Swain:

New York artist Robert Swain continues his creative use of the square as his compositional element of choice for characterizing over 5,000 colors, including their values and degrees of saturation. But, more specifically, he uses the square element and the resulting grid compositions to elucidate the color blending between adjacent hues that observers experience while viewing his iconic paintings. Swain’s artwork and life-long project is studying the human response to color. His paintings are much more than grids of color, they represent 50 years of systemic studies of how color and color juxtapositions affect the way human’s view color and the corresponding effects on the human psyche.

Robert Swain

Untitled, 5x5-35A, 2015

Acrylic on canvas

60 x 60“

Swain’s paintings demonstrate that the human eye will start to blend adjacent colors in certain ways such that the viewer sees a harmonization (mixing) of the colors or an entirely new color. It is quite remarkable, and viewers can actually experience this phenomenon even with digital images if they can concentrate on their monitor with minimal glare and distraction. Seeing them in person is spectacular and almost mind-blowing because the viewer becomes part of the process and result. The viewer will see new faint bands of color appear that are mixtures of the squares of color from the left or right, or top or bottom of the painting; often, the blending is happening and visible in multiple directions simultaneously. These bands of blended colors will shift in different orientations and directions with different compositions and organizations of the color as well as the viewer’s distance and angle of position relative to the painting.

Robert Swain Untitled 6x6-1x21, 2016 Acrylic on canvas 72 x 72" Click here to view the artwork

About Robert Swain:

Robert Swain was born in Austin, Texas, in 1940, and grew up in Arlington, Virginia. He attended The American University in Washington, DC, where he later received a BA in Fine Art in 1964. During his undergraduate studies, he spent two years in Madrid, Spain, studying at the University of Madrid. In 1964, he moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts, and worked as a studio assistant to the American Modernist painter Karl Knaths.

Swain moved to NYC in 1965 where he permanently settled in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood. In 1966, he began his first color-based work followed a year later by his first work utilizing the grid. Swain participated in his first group exhibition, Light and Line, organized by John Baldwin at the legendary Park Place Gallery in NYC in 1967. That same year he met sculptor Tony Smith who became his close friend and mentor for many years. In 1969, Swain began to develop his own color system, a project that continues until today.

Robert Swain Untitled 6x6 - 9x29, 2016 Acrylic on canvas 72 x 72" Click here to view the artwork

Swain has exhibited his work nationally and internationally for more than 52 years. His paintings have been included in countless landmark exhibitions. He participated in the seminal exhibition Art of the Real curated by Eugene Goossen at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC, in 1968. The exhibition traveled for the next two years to the Grand Palais, Paris, France; Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland; and The Tate Gallery, London, England. Swain exhibited in The Structure of Color curated by Marcia Tucker at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC, in 1971.

In 1974, Swain mounted his first solo museum exhibition at The Everson Art Museum, Syracuse, New York. He also participated In 1974 in Color as Language curated by Kynaston McShine and organized by the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art, which traveled throughout Central and South America, including to the Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogota, Colombia; Museo de Arte Moderno de Sao Paulo, Brazil; Museo de Arte Moderno, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela; and Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, Mexico. His work was also twice included in the Corcoran Biennial at The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (1969, 1998).

Robert Swain Untitled 6x6 - 3x23, 2016 Acrylic on canvas 72 x 72" Click here to view the artwork

Swain’s work is represented in nearly 300 public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Walker Art Center, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Milwaukee Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, Detroit Institute of Art, Everson Art Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, among others.

He has completed major commissions for IBM, Johnson & Johnson, American Republic Insurance Company, Schering Laboratories, Harris Bank, Travenol Laboratories, Tupperware World Headquarters, and the University of Buffalo. He has received awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts (1976, 1989), New York State Council on the Arts, and the City University of New York.

Robert Swain Untitled 6x6 - 2x22, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 72 x 72" Click here to view the artwork

In addition to his artistic work, Swain taught in the Department of Art & Art History at Hunter College from 1968-2014, where he educated and mentored countless generations of artists. For his teaching, he was awarded the Distinguished Teaching of Art Award from the College Art Association in 1998. In 2010, Swain was the subject of a major 45-year survey exhibition entitled Visual Sensations: The Paintings of Robert Swain curated by Gabriele Evertz at Hunter College/Times Square Gallery, NYC.

In 2014, he installed a major museum exhibition of large paintings entitled The Form of Color at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA, curated by Jeffrey Uslip. During 2015 he had a solo exhibition at Minus Space, in Brooklyn, New York, entitled Color Energy, organized by Rosanna Martinez and Matthew Deleget. In 2016 Swain exhibited a series of “Brush Stroke Painting” at the Nina Freudenheim Gallery, in Buffalo, New York entitled: The Sensations of Color. In 2017-18 he exhibited his work in a solo exhibition at the David Richard Gallery, LLC entitled Color: Theory and Affect. In 2018 his paintings were presented in Radiant Energy, a three person show with Robert Swain, Gabriele Evertz and Sanford Wurmfeld at Visual Arts Center of New. Later in 2018 Swain had a major solo presentation and installation of monumental paintings, Color Syntax, in The Lobby Gallery at 375 Hudson, New York City 10014.

All Artwork Copyright © Robert Swain, Courtesy David Richard Gallery. All photographs Yao Zu Lu

David Richard Gallery, LLC 211 East 121 ST | New York, NY 10035 P: (212) 882-1705


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