Profile: Edward Clark (1926-2019)

Edward Clark, also known as Ed Clark was an American abstract expressionist painter and one of the early experimenters with shaped canvas in the 1950s.

Early life

Edward Clark was born May 6, 1926, in the Storyville section of New Orleans, Louisiana. He served during World War II in the US Air Corps, stationed in Guam.

Studies

Ed Clark studied from 1947 to 1951 in The Art Institute of Chicago with Helen Gardner and Louis Ritman. Under the GI Bill of Rights which financed the higher education of recruits, Clark took residence in Paris in 1952. He enrolled at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière where he studied until 1953.

Recognition, critical response

In 2013, Clark was presented with the Art Institute of Chicago’s Legends and Legacy Award, in recognition of what it called his “pioneering paintings.”

In 2014, upon viewing an exhibit of Clark’s work at the Tilton Gallery, New York critic Barry Schwabsky wrote in The Nation, “He is, simply, one of the best living painters.” He continued, “Paint as a literal, physical presence and as a trace of the artist’s mental and physical activity becomes inseparable from the evocation of the glory of light.”

Reviewing a Museum of Modern Art show in 2017, New York Times critic Roberta Smith wrote that in a gallery that also included paintings by Willem de Kooning, Elizabeth Murray, Alma Thomas and others, she was most taken by “an effortless, thrilling abstraction full of floating light,” an untitled work by Clark. She went on to say Clark has “devoted most of his long career to handling large brushes and gorgeous color with the matter-of-fact, quietly flamboyant flair seen here.”

Since 2019, Ed Clark is exclusively represented worldwide by the Swiss gallery Hauser & Wirth.

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