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Frank Bowling

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1973
Published by: Center for Inter-American Relations
Year published: 1973

image of Frank Bowling

Frank Bowling - Center for Inter-American Relations, 680 Park Avenue, New York, 28 November 1973 - 13 January 1974

Design: Leon Auerbach; Colour Photographs: Robert Scott; Printing: Editorial Arte/Caracas, Venezuela. Introduction: John Tancock - Director, Contemporary Art Department, Sotheby Parke Bernet; Biography. From the introduction: “After constant experimentation, Bowling has arrived at a stage where the solution can best be found in abstract terms. His search for the organic relationship between line and colour corresponds to his earlier endeavour and is no less difficult to achive, but by now he is sufficiently master of his craft to create paintings in which the most obvious signs of struggle seem to have disappeared. The fact that they have not only makes this group of paintings more remarkable.“

Related people

»  (Sir) Frank Bowling OBE, RA

Born, 1935 - 1937 (probably 1936) in British Guiana (now Guyana) Caribbean/S. America

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  Center for Inter-American Relations

New York, United States of America


Group show at State University of New York at Stony Brook, Art Gallery, Princeton University Art Museum. 1969
Date: 16 October, 1969 until 8 November, 1969
Curator: Frank Bowling
Organiser: Art Gallery, State University of New York at Stony Brook

This exhibition was a collaboration between Frank Bowling, and the Art Department/Art Gallery of State University of New York at Stony Brook, and the Art and Archaeology Department/Art Museum of Princeton University. The exhibition traveled to these two university galleries. The title of this exhibition, 5+1 referred to the backgrounds and identities of the six artists in this exhibition. That is, five African-American artists and one Caribbean-born artist, the exhibition’s curator, Frank Bowling. The exhibition’s artists were Melvin Edwards (b. Houston, Texas, 1937), Al Loving (b. Detroit, Michigan, 1935), Jack Whitten, (b. Bessema, Alabama, 1939), Daniel Johnson/LaRue Johnson, (b. Los Angeles, California, 1938), William T. Williams (b. North Carolina, 1942), and Frank Bowling, (b. Bartica, Essequibo, Guyana, 1936). At the time of 5+1, all of these artists were in their 30s or late 20s, and had, to varying degrees and in different ways, embraced abstraction within their practice. Interestingly, all of these artists were to be represented in Energy/Experimentation: Black Artists and Abstraction 1964 - 1980, an exhibition held at the Studio Museum in Harlem, April 5 - July 2, 2006, featuring the work of Frank Bowling, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Ed Clark, Melvin Edwards, Fred Eversley, Sam Gilliam, Daniel LaRue Johnson, Tom Lloyd, Al Loving, Joe Overstreet, Howardena Pindell, Haywood Bill Rivers, Alma Thomas, Jack Whitten, and William T. Williams.

The exhibition took place at a time in which notions relating to “Black Art’. “black art”, “Black art”, and its perceived or required practitioners were hotly and widely debated. In this sense, 5+1 represented a polemical and provocative intervention into the then ongoing debates. The Introduction, by Lawrence Alloway, Professor, Department of Art, S.U.N.Y. at Stony Brook, and Sam Hunter, Professor, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, gave sense of the breadth and depth of the exhibition’s impulses:

“The way in which this exhibition came about should be recorded, as it is the only way to express our gratitude to its organizer, Frank Bowling. Frank Bowling was uniquely able to surmount the divisive cultural problems involved. Mr Bowling is a Black artist living in the United States, but not of American birth; the other five artists are American by birth and, like him, now live in New York City. (In this respect all six artists are like most artists in New York, out-of-towners by birth). Mr Bowling’s position as part of the Black community is complemented, as a result of his different background, by the knowledge of detachment as well as participation. He is the only artist at present in a position to act as a critic, a man able to speak to two different groups - the artists and their audience (an audience that is still mostly White).

The situation for Black artists is ambiguous: there is considerable use of the idea of art as an instrument to advance Black identity, Black rights; there is, also, clearly and successfully, an impulse towards the making of art as art. In the artists’ statements in this catalogue, both possibilities oscillate. One attitude shared by the present artists is worth isolating. Edwards’ desire for an art beyond aesthetics, Loving’s view of the “artist as part-prophet”. Williams’ “we are action painters”, Bowling’s relevant-irrelevant account of the genesis of his present paintings, are pungently mid-century in ideas and style (another name for mid-century is “Art Since 1945”)

This is the period of existentialist criticism, of Abstract Expressionist attitudes; thus the language of the present artists is not specifically their own, but a shared language of post-war art. The alienation, the floating revolutionary impulses, the epistemological doubts, are not racial in origin, but professional. Viewed in this way, the two themes of aesthetics and protest can be joined. The Black artist has a social framework in which to enact artistic problems; protest serves as a metaphor of the alienation felt by all Abstract Expressionist artists. Hence the fact of making art becomes its social significance.”

Related items

click to show details of 5+1

»  5+1

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1969

People in this exhibition + view all 6

»  Melvin Edwards

Born, 1937 in Houston, Texas, USA

»  Daniel Johnson/LaRue Johnson

Born, 1938 in Los Angeles, CA, USA

»  Al/Alvin Loving

Born, 1935. Died, 2005

»  Jack Whitten

Born, 1939 in Bessemer, Alabama, USA

»  William T. Williams

Born, 1942 in Cross Creek, NC, USA

Exhibition venues

»  Princeton University Art Museum

Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America

»  State University of New York at Stony Brook, Art Gallery

Stony Brook, New York, USA, United States of America

Frank Bowling

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1988
Year published: 1988

image of Frank Bowling

Slim but immensely important catalogue for a Frank Bowling exhibition that toured to venues in England and Ireland in the late 1980s.

Castlefield Gallery was the first venue for this Frank Bowling exhibition that subsequently travelled to The Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, Ireland (September 1988), The Senate House, University of Liverpool (October 1988), and the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol (Spring 1989). The Castlefield Gallery’s dates were 10 June - 23 July 1988. Only approximate dates/time periods were listed in a note stapled onto the inside back cover of the small accompanying catalogue.

Unusually, the exhibition featured examples of Bowling lesser-known sculptural pieces, made of welded steel, alongside his paintings produced in the mid to late 1980s. Christine Eccles provided an introduction to the catalogue. In it. she wrote, “The dramatic grandeur of these paintings is tamed by Bowling’s whimsical titles. ‘Bounce’ is called ‘Bounce’ because it does indeed bounce. ‘Sasha’s Green Bag’ is so called because his friend Denis de Caires’s four year old daughter stood by the work in progress and sought out the greens that matched her green handbag. There is a vein of light heartedness in Bowling’s approach to his work most evident in the scrap metal sculptures.”

Catalogue contents as follows:

Introduction, by Christine Eccles

Eight pages of plates, four of Bowling’s sculpture, four (in colour) of his paintings

Artist’s CV (over two pages)

List of exhibition tour venues and approximate dates/time periods listed in a note stapled onto the inside back catalogue cover.

Related people

»  (Sir) Frank Bowling OBE, RA

Born, 1935 - 1937 (probably 1936) in British Guiana (now Guyana) Caribbean/S. America

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  Castlefield Gallery

Manchester, United Kingdom

»  Crawford Art Gallery

Cork, Ireland

»  Royal West of England Academy

Bristol, United Kingdom

»  Senate House, University of Liverpool

Liverpool, United Kingdom