Alan Shields

Something Goin' On & On

Greenberg Van Doren Gallery

April 28 – June 24, 2011

Curated by Jill Brienza Fully illustrated catalogue with essay by Bob Nickas

Greenberg Van Doren Gallery is pleased to present Something Goin’ On & On, a solo exhibition of paintings, sculptures and works on paper by the late Alan Shields (1944-2005), curated by Jill Brienza. This is the first selected survey of Shields’ work in New York in eleven years and inaugurates the gallery’s representation of the artist’s estate. The exhibition will be on view from April 28th to June 24th, 2011. A fully illustrated catalogue featuring an essay by Bob Nickas has been published on the occasion of the exhibition.

Realizing the full potential of his materials, Shields painted, dyed, wove, sewed, and sculpted his works into interactive forms, both conceptually and literally. The media used do not merely rest on the surface, but are physically embedded within the canvas or paper. Using brilliant color on un-stretched canvases and handmade paper often with impasto-like texture, Shields employed sewing as a means of drawing as well as carefully draped yarn and rope, often studded with glass beads. A sense of history and the visible trace of the artist’s hand in his mottled dye and quilting techniques act as a nod to his Midwestern upbringing.

Both Shields’ use of color and form epitomize the American post-Minimalism movement. Emblematic of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s freewheeling style, Shields’ semiotic palette includes spirals, mazes, pyramids, mandalas, anthropomorphic and natural forms. Equally dense and expansive, Shields’ work elicits movement through trance-like use of color and pattern.

It was common for Shields to strategically position his sculptural pieces in front of a hanging work, forcing the viewer to contemplate the hanging works literally through three-dimensional works. By creating this visually layered and interactive experience, Shields generates an active dialogue between the sculptural works, the flat works and the viewer. Bob Nickas underlines this engagement between Shields’ work and the audience:

They are meant to be seen from near and from afar. With distance we understand their structure and overall image. Up close, we discover the details and how enlivened their surfaces are, by way of the stitched line – for Shields a unique form of drawing – and of bead work, and how the placement of glass beads might amplify the random pools and stains of paint. Looking at art, Shields insists, is always a matter of proximity, and he never forgets the viewer who ultimately activates the work.

Alan Shields was born in Herington, Kansas in 1944 and died in Shelter Island, New York in 2005. He was educated at Kansas State University and participated in Summer Theatre Workshops at the University of Maine. He was the recipient of a 1973 Guggenheim Fellowship. Solo museum exhibitions include Alan Shields: Stirring up the Waters, The Parrish Museum of Art, Southampton, NY (2007), Alan Shields: A Survey, The Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS (1999), and 1968-1983: The Work of Alan Shields, The Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, Memphis, TN (1983). His works are included in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Tate Collection, London, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art among many others.