press release

Greenberg Van Doren Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of small paintings by the late American abstract expressionist James Brooks (1906 – 1992). This is the first selected survey of works devoted to intimately sized pictures by the artist. The show will be on view from November 16 – December 23, 2003.

The exhibition will feature sixteen canvases that span Brooks’ entire career from the mid-1940s through the 80s. The works in the show chronicle the artist’s development from early cubist inspired compositions to the abstract and bold forms that exemplify the best of Brooks’s mature efforts. Together, they show the growth of a highly individual artist while at the same time illustrating the progress of American post-war painting, when the influence of the Paris school becomes transformed into the first generation of New York’s abstractionists. Though Brooks’ early works on canvas and panel may seem very different to what ultimately became his signature style, what remains consistent throughout is the artist’s ability to both enact and represent the processes of painting. They explore the ways in which boundaries operate between shapes and colors, testing the flatness of a canvas in relationship to the spatial effects suggested by form and palette. But what is perhaps most interesting about Brooks’ small paintings is that they simultaneously exemplify and challenge the very notion of the heroic-scale and spontaneous mark-making that so preoccupied the Abstract Expressionists.


James Brooks: A Survey of Small Paintings