Cozad, 1942 - 2007

Dan Christensen

Dan Christensen was a leading figure in the Color Field movement whose relentless experimentation with new tools and materials made him among the most ambitious abstract and gestural artists of his time.

In the late 1960s, Dan Christensen’s art was championed by important curators, critics, and art dealers, and important paintings were placed in major museum collections around the United States. However, it is only recently that his multifaceted oeuvre has received the widespread attention it has long deserved. The traveling retrospective, Dan Christensen: Forty Years of Painting, organized by the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City, Missouri) in 2009, helped make a convincing case for a heightened appreciation of Christensen’s work and his significant place in postwar abstraction. In a day when artists often held to a specific...

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Biography

Dan Christensen was a leading figure in the Color Field movement whose relentless experimentation with new tools and materials made him among the most ambitious abstract and gestural artists of his time.

In the late 1960s, Dan Christensen’s art was championed by important curators, critics, and art dealers, and important paintings were placed in major museum collections around the United States. However, it is only recently that his multifaceted oeuvre has received the widespread attention it has long deserved. The traveling retrospective, Dan Christensen: Forty Years of Painting, organized by the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City, Missouri) in 2009, helped make a convincing case for a heightened appreciation of Christensen’s work and his significant place in postwar abstraction. In a day when artists often held to a specific type of form, Christensen changed his approach and aesthetic often, at times in dramatic reversals and at other times in a return to and an expansion of earlier themes. His use of spray guns, window-washing squeegees, rakes, blasters, and house painting rollers were not the basis of his art but the vehicles that enabled him to strive for new ways of seeing. As noted in a review in Artforum of his Kemper show, the critic Peter Plagens observed that with his gutsy combination of elements, Christensen arrived “at some sort of visual poetry.”

Dan Christensen was born in Cozad, Nebraska in 1942. Seeing the work of Jackson Pollock on a trip to Denver when he was teenager motivated him to become an artist. He pursued this aim at the Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri, where he received his B.F.A. After moving to New York in 1964, he rose quickly to fame, as among a group of young artists who were reviving painting during a time that minimalism was prevalent. Christensen first gained renown for his spray loop paintings, in which he used the spray gun to create repeating calligraphic circles, producing shimmering allover surface effects. His work progressed in several directions, including his plaids, in which he used rollers and squeegees to “get more paint down on the canvas,” resulting in tighter compositions that at the same time had an improvisational quality as their compositions were determined in the artist’s “editing” phase. In another series, he used sticks and brush ends to cut into thick acrylic strata, abrading his surfaces to let colorful underlayers emerge. In the 1980s, he returned to the loop, using color sprays to create blurred circles and evanescent mandala-like lozenges.

Christensen conjoined his thematic issues in the mid-1990s, creating orbs of colors that seem to melt as well as move through fluorescent and celestial atmospheres, their shifting lines implying the Pythagorian harmony of the spheres as well as atomic energy and matter. Christensen was creating works of heightened brilliance and intensity when his career was abruptly ended by his early death in 2007.

Christensen received a National Endowment Grant in 1968 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1969. His paintings are held in over thirty museum collections, including the Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Seattle Art Museum; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and many others. This summer, Gagosian Gallery in London will be including the 1968 masterpiece, “Pavo” in their exhibition entitled, “Sprayed,” featuring works by Jules Olitski, David Smith, and Christopher Wool. Berry Campbell Gallery in Chelsea represents the estate of Dan Christensen.

Artworks

19

Raising Red, 1969

Related Categories

20th Century Art / Abstract Painting / Abstraction / Acrylic on Canvas / Acrylic Paint / Acrylic Painting / American Art / Art after World War II / Art of the 1960s / Canvas / Color and Form / Color Field Abstraction / Color Field Painting / Gentle and Smooth Brushstrokes / Lyrical Expression / Media Study / New York / Painting / Spray Paint / Spray Painting / United States

Curriculum Vitae

Education

  • 1964

    BFA, Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2019

    Berry Campbell, Early Spray Paintings (1967 – 1969), New York

  • 2017

    Berry Campbell, New York, Late Calligraphic Stains

  • 2015

    Berry Campbell, New York, Retrospective

Group Exhibitions

  • 2019

    Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina, A Life With Art | Gifts from Dwight and Sue Emanuelson

  • American Fine Arts Society Gallery, New York, New York—Centric, [curated by James Little]

  • Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections

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Curriculum Vitae

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Education

  • 1964

    BFA, Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2019

    Berry Campbell, Early Spray Paintings (1967 – 1969), New York

  • 2017

    Berry Campbell, New York, Late Calligraphic Stains

  • 2015

    Berry Campbell, New York, Retrospective

  • LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Atmospherics

  • 2014

    Spanierman Modern, New York, Sprays and Stains

  • 2013

    LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, New Mexico, The Orb Paintings: 1992-1996

  • 2012

    Spanierman Modern, New York, The Early Sprays, 1967 – 1969 (2012 - 2013)

  • 2011

    LewAllen Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Bars and Scrapes

  • Spanierman Modern, New York, The Stain Paintings

  • 2009

    LewAllen Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Lyrical Spray Canvases, 1960s to the 1990s

  • Spanierman Modern, New York, The Plaid Paintings

  • Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri (traveled to Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, Nebraska), Dan Christensen: Forty Years of Painting (2009 - 2010)

  • 2007

    LewAllen Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Dan Christensen: PURE PAINTING, A Forty-Year Retrospective (1966-2006)

  • 2006

    Pamela Williams Gallery, Amagansett, New York

  • 2005

    Skot Foreman Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia, A Survey of Paintings and Graphics

  • 2004

    Ed Thorp Gallery, New York, Re/View

  • Elaine Baker Gallery, 9 Paintings at Lizan-Tops Gallery

  • 2003

    Lizan-Tops Gallery, East Hampton, New York

  • 2002

    Parrish Museum of Art, Water Mill, New York, Selections from a Retrospective (2002 – 2003)

  • 2001

    Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, Dan Christensen: A Forty Year Survey (2001 – 2002)

  • 2000

    CS. Schulte Galleries, Millburn, New Jersey

  • Salander-O’Reilly Gallery, New York

Group Exhibitions

  • 2019

    Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina, A Life With Art | Gifts from Dwight and Sue Emanuelson

  • American Fine Arts Society Gallery, New York, New York—Centric, [curated by James Little]

  • Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections

  • 2018

    MM Fine Art, Southampton, Long Island Painters, A Survey

  • Cavalier Galleries, New York, 57th Street: America’s Artistic Legacy, Part I

  • Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections

  • 2017

    Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections

  • Sheldon Art Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska, nonObjectives

  • 2016

    Berry Campbell Gallery, New York, Summer Selections

  • Art Southampton, Southampton, NY, Berry Campbell

  • Art Wynwood, Miami, FL, Berry Campbell

  • 2015

    Baker Sponder Gallery, Boca Raton, Florida, 25 Years 25 Artists

  • Art Miami, Miami, FL, Berry Campbell

  • Art Silicon Valley/San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

  • Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections

  • Art Wynwood, Miami, FL, Berry Campbell

  • Art Southampton, Southampton, NY, Berry Campbell

  • 2014

    Berry Campbell Gallery, New York, A Year in Review

  • Art Wynwood, Miami, FL, Berry Campbell

  • Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York (2014 - 2016)

  • 2013

    LewAllen Galleries, Scottsdale, Arizona, New York Color Field

  • 2010

    Elaine Baker Gallery, Boca Raton, Florida

  • 2009

    LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Hand to Paper: The Quiet Sublimity of Works on Paper

  • Spanierman Gallery, East Hampton, New York, Gallery Selections

  • 2006

    Leif Hope’s Restaurant, East Hampton, New York, Group Show

  • Spanierman Gallery, East Hampton, New York, Long Island Abstraction 1950s to Present

  • Spanierman Modern, New York, On Paper – From Sketch to Showpiece

  • Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina (traveled to National Academy Museum, New York; Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe), High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting 1967 – 1975 (2006 - 2008)

  • Elaine Baker Gallery, Boca Raton, Florida

  • Hausler Contemporary, Munich, Loveparade 2

  • Spanierman Modern, New York, Gallery Selections

  • 2005

    Joan T. Washburn Gallery and Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York, Wilder – A Tribute to Nicholas Wilder Gallery

  • Pamela Wilson Gallery, East Hampton, New York

  • Remy Toldedo Gallery, New York, Then and Now

  • Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn, Works on Paper

  • Spanierman Gallery, East Hampton, New York, Art and the Garden: Post-War and Contemporary Paintings of the Garden

  • Spanierman Gallery, East Hampton, New York, Artists and Nature on Eastern Long Island: 1940s to the Present

  • 2004

    Guild Hall, East Hampton, New York, On the Books: Sculptural Collaboration

  • Lizan-Tops Gallery, East Hampton, New York, Black and White

  • 2003

    Lizan-Tops Gallery, East Hampton, New York

  • Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York

  • Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Lincoln, Nebraska, Big Canvas – Paintings from the Permanent Collection

  • Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn

  • 2002

    Lizan-Tops Gallery, East Hampton, New York

  • Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn

  • 2000

    Portland Art Museum, Oregon, Clement Greenberg: A Critic’s Collection

Grants/Awards

  • 1992

    Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant

  • 1986

    Gottlieb Foundation Grant

  • 1969

    Guggenheim Fellowship Theodoran Award

  • 1968

    National Endowment Grant

Collections

  • Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts

  • Albrecht Art Gallery, St. Joseph, Missouri

  • Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

  • Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio

  • Art Institute of Chicago

  • Blanton Museum of American Art, University of Texas at Austin

  • Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida

  • The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio

  • Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio

  • Dayton Art Institute, Ohio