Marjorie Strider, Pioneering ’60′s Artist Remains a Creative Force

Diane Dewey
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A past catalogue montage , picturing the artist with her work and a Village Voice cover story from her early career.

Like her ooze paintings that were Happenings in the 1970’s – enacted at The Clocktower, where wanton ooze descended a spiral staircase, and at PS1, where orange and red urethane foam swept ladders in their wake and tumbled out of the windows – Marjorie Strider’s canvas works signal emotional release and fusion with their surroundings. In paintings that followed during the 1990’s, Strider delivered, through modeling paste, ceramic and acrylic, the excavated channels into which we shuttle our thoughts and feelings that involuntarily gush out and uncontained, are sent off the canvas edge by her “extensions.” Surface texture consists of hyper-brilliant helixes of concave paint that furrow through a built up terrain of dots, radiant hatch marks, and color amplitudes upon which objects–Egyptian and Buddhist cultural icons as well as roses, skulls, and Madonna are deposited, a detritus of time. 

Each of these investigations derails current attitudes about formalist approaches to painting, and reminds us more of exploded fruit – their serene and muted chaos photographed by Raymond Meier – or of Hedy Lamar’s nude scene in Ecstasy where she floats lavishly in outward spiraling pools of water, waves swirling in their own dark abysses and vortices, or simply of the big bang.  The works are modalities that accumulate and dissipate emotional content throughout their space. 

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Marjorie Strider, large abstract, Marble Dust Series, (ca. 1992)

Marjorie Strider was educated in Kansas City Art Institute, and having come to New York in the 1960’s, met with exasperating non-receptivity until Arne Glimcher saw her work and gave her consecutive shows in 1965 and 1966.  Constructions of the fantasy female, mostly bikini clad women with protrusions made emphatic in acrylic paint and laminated pine on Masonite panels that measured 105” x 72” formed the installation entitled “The First International Girlie Show”.  The sculptured perfection of these inanimate women captured the  frozen sparkle of fetching eyes and glossed lips, sometimes parted to devour a sexually charged radish or strawberry.

From Pace Gallery onward, Strider took charge of her work producing outsized objects and figures that were decidedly in your face, asking about ephemeral views on how and where things should be—as tomato slices or orange sections progress toward you – and why.  Her work from the late 1990’s continued to encroach with mammoth oceanic swells that claim dislodged figures whose overwhelmed senses in Aria at Sea, (1997), and Lifeline (after Homer), (1997), are documented in remnant words – disassociated entities like Tears and Joy, Losses and Lines that wash up on the canvas.

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Marjorie Strider, small abstract, Marble Dust Series, (ca. 1990)

But it’s Strider’s earlier abstractions – like Starry Night (1995), and Rosalia (1994), that focus on the raw essence of her meditation, distilled from other aesthetic concerns as a way of being and proceeding, and form the roadmap for work to come.  With text and figures removed, one glimpses the primordial stew that produced them.  Crystallized is the movement from points of departure to arrival and circulation, releasing waves of emotion contained therein, piercing and depositing them as part of the artist’s process.  The ricocheting channels that conduct their kinetic energy are then left exposed, as in some sense, are we. 

Today the artist is again revisiting glossy magazines and mining their hypertrophic sensibilities to construct inventions of female legs, torsos, and heads.  Protean and forceful, Marjorie Strider’s work has always dealt with iconic flotsam and jetsam, how it congeals and moves on, from entropy to disentropy.  The cryogenic-like freezing of woman’s youthful appearance through time is the extraordinary anomaly that still fascinates.  Her imagery consistently insinuates itself upon us; like the unrelenting ooze, the freed object, and the channeled energy, it is a hermeneutic self revelation that is both personal and social.

 © Diane Dewey, October, 2009

Marjorie Strider (American, b. 1934) emerged on the New York gallery scene in the mid-1960’s when her carved and painted wooden panels of 3-D girls in bikinis were initially shown in the Pace Gallery show entitled “The First International Girlie Show”, which also included paintings by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Tom Wesselman. The critic Sidney Tillim linked it to the contemporaneous show “Four Environments” at Sidney Janis, which included works by Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist and George Segal. Of these, Strider was friendly with Roy Lichtenstein and the Oldenburgs, for whom she made a plaster cast of Patty Oldenburg’s breasts which was later acquired by Sol Lewitt. (A chocolate version of the cast was given to Claes.)

At the time, Abstract Expressionism was in full force; Strider chose instead to follow the color field painters like Mark Rothko, Kenneth Noland and Ellsworth Kelly and to augment it with three dimensionality she called “build outs” including huge sculptures of vegetables and fruit that formed her first solo show at Pace Gallery. In the seventies, Strider redirected the poured paint of Jackson Pollock and Robert Smithson’s Asphalt Rundown (1969) into site specific installations of urethane foam called Ooze that took place at PS1 (Building Work, 1976), the Clock Tower (Blue Sky, 1976) and later at the Neuberger Museum (1999). By the 1990’s Strider synthesized parts, pours, and attachments formed the Marble Dust series, abstractions that were collaged, built up and painted on wood, combining her themes of flowers and iconic elements with formal explorations of thrust and intense color. Through each of these artistic periods, Strider’s work relives the vivid energy of the sixties and its monumental ambition in painting.

Marjorie Strider: Public Collections 

The Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York

The Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut

Boca Raton Museum, Boca Raton, Florida

City University Graduate Center, New York

University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

Danforth Museum, Framingham, Massachusetts

Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa

First National Bank, Seattle, Washington

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana

McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas

New York University, New York

Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey

Santa Fe Museum of Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York

Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Vero Beach Center for the Arts, Vero Beach, Florida

The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut


Exhibition History:

 2007    Andre Zarre Gallery, New York City

2005    Big Fish Insiders Art Gallery Cornwall Bridge, CT.

2003    Flying Boat, New York City, Catalogue

2001    Truck work, Gardener, NY

1999    Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York, Catalogue

1998    Selby Gallery, Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida, “Sarasota Pour.” Outdoor installation (catalogue)

1997    237 West Broadway, New York, “Building Work: This Time,” outdoor installation

1995    Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, “Recent Paintings”

1993    Andre Zarre Gallery, New York

1988-9O   Finn Square, New York, “Sunflower Plaza,” outdoor installation

1986    Broadway Windows, New York University, New York

1984    Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, New York, “Wall Sculpture and Drawings”

P.M. and Stein Gallery, New York, “Recent Sculpture U.S.A.”

1982    Myers Fine Art Gallery, State University of New York at Plattsburgh; Hillwood Art Gallery, C.W. Post Center, Long Island University, Greenvale, New

York; The Sculpture Center, New York; The College of Wooster,

Wooster, Ohio; The Alexandria Museum, Visual Art Center,, Alexandria,

Louisiana; The Gibbes Art Gallery, Charleston, South Carolina; Joslyn Art

Museum, Omaha, Nebraska; Museum of Art The University of

Arizona, Tucson; The McNay Art Institute, San Antonio, Texas; Museum of Art,

The University of Oklahoma, Norman; Brainerd Art Gallery, State University of

New York at Potsdam; The Robert Hull Fleming Museum, University of

Vermont, Burlington; Trout Gallery, Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania;

“Marjorie Strider: 10 Years, 1970-1980″ (catalogue), traveling through 1985

1978    Colby-Sawyer College, New London, New Hampshire

1976    The Clocktower, New York City University Graduate Center, New York

1974    Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, “Strider:

            Sculpture and Drawings 1972-1974- (brochure) Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York

1973    Nancy Hoffinan Gallery, New york

1971    112 Greene Street, New york, “Building Work” (outdoor installation)

1968    Park College, Parksville, Missouri

1966    The Pace Gallery, New York

1965    The Pace Gallery, New York

 

Partial Bibliography:

 

  • Alloway, Lawrence. Great Drawings of All Time: The Twentieth Century, Volume 2, New York: Shorewood/Talisman, 1981.
  • Battock, Gregory., ed. Super Realism: A Critical Anthology, New York: Dutton, 1975
  • Brentano, Robyn, ed. with Mark Savitt. 112 Workshop/112 Greene Street. New York: New York University Press, 1981
  • Compton, Michael. Pop Art. London: Hamlyn, 1970
  • Hess, Thomas B. and Elizabeth C. Baker, eds. Art and Sexual Politics. New York: MacMillan
  • Hess, Thomas B. and Linda Nochlin, eds. Woman as Sex Object. New York: Newsweek, Inc., 1972
  • Hunter, Sam. American Art of the 20th Century. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1972
  • Johnston, Jill. Marmalade Me. New York: Dutton, 1971
  • Jones, V. W. Contemporary American Women Sculptors. Phoenix: Onyx Press, 1983
  • Kirby, Michael. The Art of Time. New York: Dutton, 1969
  • Kirby, Michael, ed. The New Theatre: Performance, Documentation. New York UniversityPress,1974
  • Kultermann, Udo. The New Sculpture. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1968
  • Lippard, Lucy. Pop Art. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1966
  • Lippard, Lucy. From the Center, feminist essays on women’s art. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1976
  • Lippard, Lucy. Six Years: the dematerialization of the art object. New York: Praeger, 1973
  • Lippard, Lucy. The Pink Glass Swan, 1995.
  • Padovano, Anthony. The Process of Sculpture. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1981
  • Pierre, Jose. W. J. Stachan, trans. An Illustrated Dictionary of Pop Art. London: Eyre Methuen, 1977
  • Pincus-Witten, Robert. Postminimalism. New York: Out of London Press, 1977
  • Rubinstein, Charlotte Streifer. American Women Sculptors, A History of Women Working in Three Dimensions. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1991
  • Semmel, Joan. A New Eros. New York: Hacker Art Books, 1977
  • Sewall-Ruskin, Yvonne. High On Rebellion. New York: Thunders Mouth Press, 1998
  • Soho Downtown Manhattan. Akademie der Kunste and Berliner Festwochen, 1976
  • Stroud, Marion Boulton, ed. An Industrious Art, Innovation in Pattern and Print at the Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia: The Fabric Workshop; New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992.
  • Van Wagner, Judy Collischan. Lines of Vision, Drawings by Contemporary Women. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1988
  • Zelanski, Paul and Mary Pat Fisher. Shaping Space. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1987

 List of art critical essays and publication writings available.