“In physics, all straight lines are really curved if you extend them far enough. And if you’ve been doing straight lines for a while, the next thing is to try curves. Where else is there to go but all the way round?”
Lee Lozano, 1968
Lee Lozano (1930 – 1999) carved an extraordinary and elusive artistic career. Lauded by Lucy Lippard as the foremost female conceptual artist of her era in New York, by the early 1970s Lozano had disengaged herself from the New York art world completely. She left behind a body of work of striking formal breadth and complexity that embraced expressionistic figurative painting, darkly chaotic drawings, minimal abstraction and far-reaching conceptual investigation. Her mission was to merge art and life together, images and ideas.
Despite their formal diversity, Lozano’s works all share a radical idealism that successively manifested itself as luscious sensuality, excoriating humour and hard-core politics. There is a full-blooded quality to all of her work, an intense and insistent physicality realised through her use of paint, language and action that stood out amidst the rarefied climate of Conceptual art. A fierce rejecter of matter and materialism, Lozano’s art is nevertheless impressively corporeal: visceral, libidinal and emphatically hard-hitting.
Lozano’s large, four-canvas work No Title, 1969, has its roots in a series of paintings she began in the mid 1960s that depicted geometric shapes such as cones, cylinders and wedges. Painted in palettes of bronze, grey and ferrous reds and each titled with an active verb – ‘cram’, ‘shoot’, ‘slide’, ‘switch’ and ‘goad’, for instance, – these works are visual distillations of force and energy, the intensity they evince compounded by the relentlessness of the series.
No Title relies upon the precise placement of the four canvases in order that a circle may be completed in the mind of the viewer. Lozano explained: “I felt all I had to do was create a small part of the circle because the quality of illusionism in painting is what intrigues me – how far I must go to complete an idea. For me, each painting is part of a monumental form, so that all my paintings are just details of a form that can be extended to infinity or a point in infinity.”
In 1972 Lozano left New York eventually settling in Dallas, Texas where she lived until her death in 1999. Her career remains a source of fascination and her work has been subject to an intensive re-evaluation since 1998. Major exhibitions include Lee Lozano MATRIX: 135, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford CT, 1998, Lee Lozano, Drawn from Life: 1961 – 1971, PS 1/MoMA, New York, 2004, Win First Don’t Last Win Last Don’t Care, Kunsthalle Basel and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2006 and “SEEK THE EXTREMES…” Lee Lozano, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, 2006.
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About the artist
Lee Lozano’s paintings are admired for their energy, daring physicality and tirelessness in investigating the body and issues of gender. Although lauded by Lucy Lippard in 1995 as the foremost female conceptual artist of her time, Lozano had disengaged herself from the…Learn more