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Richard Pousette-Dart, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. He grew up in Valhalla, New York, and developed an early interest in art, influenced by his parents where his father was a painter and writer on art, and his mother was a poet and musician. Pousette-Dart was associated with the New York School of Abstract Expressionists. In 1936 Pousette-Dart attended Bard College, but after a year he left school and moved to New York City devoting himself to sculpture and painting. During the late 1930s and the early 1940s, Richard found inspiration for his paintings in African, Oceanic, and Native American Art as well as European modernism. In 1941, Pousette-Dart secured his first one-man exhibition in New York and continued to exhibit in the leading New York galleries, for example the Betty Parsons Gallery and Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery. Pousette-Dart was included in the Museum of Modern Art exhibition “Contemporary American Painting” and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s biennial in 1949.
Pousette-Dart’s early paintings of the 1940s and 1950s are a synthesis of many styles, including Cubism, organic Surrealism, and included motifs from indigenous African and Native American art. His early works depict totemic forms and signs, mirroring his interest in human consciousness and psychological theories. Like many abstract expressionists, Pousette-Dart often worked with his canvases on the floor, applying the pigment directly from the tube and creating his own rhythm in handling the paint. In the 1950s Pousette-Dart began creating works that emphasized the tactility of the surface, where many layers of pigment would both hide and reveal specific iconography.
By the 1960s, Pousette-Dart had formed a style that suggested a neo-pointillist idiom in its discrete application of areas of color, these canvases are filled with flickering colors that produce forms radiant with shimmering light. Focusing on a single motif, the artist emphasizes movement inherent in forms that are both abstract and natural at the same time. Over the years Pousette-Dart held various teaching positions at institutions such as the New School for Social Research (1959–61) and the Art Students League (1980–85). Pousette-Dart can be found in many word renowned collections and museums across the world including Hirshorn Museum, Metropolitan, MoMA, Pallazo, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Vatican Museum, Whitney and Guggenheim.