Chris Martin:Painting BIG
Chris Martin’s paintings are tactile and stitched-together, incorporating found objects and collage into their abstract geometries and rhythmic patterns. His works relate to the physical world as much as to his own internal landscape of memories and experiences, which draw from music, literature, and the human relationship to the natural world. Martin’s project for the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Painting Big, presents his work in the form of a three-part exhibition. One portion brings together large-scale works from the past nine years; another is a dense assemblage of small paintings in the Rotunda on view through August 28; the third presents a new body of work: a site-specific installation of monumental paintings in the museum’s central atrium. Three paintings, each 26 feet high, will be suspended from the second floor of the museum to the ground, creating a vibrant “room” of color and pattern in the public space of the gallery.
Although abstract, Martin’s paintings are a direct response to the physical world around him. Many of his
works integrate objects from his immediate environment into their surfaces, including kitchen utensils, records, photographs, and Persian carpets. The works are as much about daily life—music, travel, and language—as they are about mythology, storytelling, the endurance of symbols, and the role of painting in art history.Martin’s interest in bringing painting into the realm of lived experience and his own history of performance are essential elements of his work. In the 1970s and 1980s, he created collaborative paintings during Happenings with other artists and musicians. He has placed works in bus stops, on the sides of buildings, and in nightclubs, fabricating them with phosphorescent paint to respond to the lighting and conditions of the location. He has taken large-scale paintings for “walks” around the block, involving his neighbors and local shopkeepers in creating the meaning and experience of his work. In more traditional gallery spaces, Martin has blurred the distinction between the art object and the viewer, placing paintings on floors, ceilings, and displayed among household objects.
Originally from Washington, D.C., Martin grew up visiting the Corcoran. His memories of seeing ambitious sculptural installations in the Corcoran’s central atrium have inspired his ideas for this exhibition, and his paintings directly engage the architecture and history of the museum. This is Martin’s first one-artist museum exhibition.
Chris Martin was born in Washington D.C. in 1954. From 1972–75 he attended Yale University, and in 1992 attained a BFA, Certificate of Art Therapy from the School of Visual Arts, New York. Martin has lived and worked in New York City since 1976 and has been exhibiting actively in the United States since the early 1980s. Recent projects include Joe Bradley & Chris Martin at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, 2010, and a one-artist exhibition of large-scale paintings and drawings at KOW Berlin, Germany, 2009. Martin’s works have also been included in many group exhibitions includingAbstract America at the Saatchi Gallery, London, 2009; Shape Shifters at the University of North Carolina, Pembroke, NC, 2008; The Painted World at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, NY, 2005; andCurrent Undercurrents: Working in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, 1997. Martin has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, 2002, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award, 1999.