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Thomas Nozkowski

Recent Work

About Thomas Nozkowski

Thomas Nozkowski (b. 1944, Teaneck, New Jersey, d. 2019) is recognized for his richly colored and intimately scaled abstract paintings and drawings that push the limits of visual language. An awareness of perception and the desire to explore the possibilities of seeing, is at once grounded in reality for the artist and released from specific legibility. His concurrent practices of painting and drawing reflect on specific places and experiences—from the deeply symbolic to the notational—translating sensations and memories into abstract compositions.

Nozkowski began exhibiting in group shows in 1973 and made his solo debut in 1979. By 1982, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, had acquired a painting from an early one-person exhibition for their permanent collection. To date, Nozkowski’s paintings have been featured in more than 300 museum and gallery exhibitions worldwide, including over 70 solo shows.

Press Release

  • Thomas Nozkowski: Recent Work
    Thomas Nozkowski will present new paintings and works on paper at Pace’s newest gallery, 510 West 25th Street, New York City, from October 22 through December 4, 2010. The exhibition is his second at The Pace Gallery and the seventy-third solo show of his career. A catalogue will accompany the exhibition, and a public reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, October 21 from 6 – 8 p.m. Thomas Nozkowski: Recent Work features twenty oil-on-panel paintings made over the past two years, each presented alongside a smaller drawing variation. In the works on paper Nozkowski ruminates on alternative directions that he could have taken with each painting, resulting in a dialogue that provides insight into the artist’s process. For over thirty years, Nozkowski has produced richly colored, small-scale abstract paintings, yet his extensive vocabulary of organic and geometric forms means that rarely are any two of his pictures alike. Instead, within the self-imposed restrictions of his working method—abstract oils painted with a small-sized brush on easel-sized canvas board or panel—Nozkowski creates a seemingly limitless variety of works that are simultaneously abstract and pictorial, rooted in daily visual experience yet indecipherable. “Nozkowski is exactly the kind of artist who makes the effortful seem effortless . . . with him, abstraction becomes an endless adventure in structure, texture, tone and mood,” wrote Marc Mayer, director of the National Gallery of Canada in the catalogue for the museum’s retrospective of the artist’s work last year. Nozkowski relies on subtle fluctuations, alternating translucencies and opacities, tinting and shading to create varied and vibrant paintings. He will often rework a canvas for years at a time, wiping down, scraping, and repainting, which sometimes results in streaked and modulated hues that optically elide forms and bend spaces. Though the works vary greatly, certain hallmarks exist: a continual exploration of the figure/ground relationship, organic and geometric forms made of complex and often pattern-like shapes, and colors that run the gamut of spectrum and intensity. An interview between Thomas Nozkowski and Garth Lewis, a Senior Lecturer at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London, will be published in the Pace exhibition catalogue. The conversation explores Nozkowski’s approach to painting, including the sources of his abstractions, his tightly defined methods and format, and the function of his works on paper. “The oils on paper are like snapshots of moments in the lives of my paintings,” said Nozkowski. “I was taught by Abstract Expressionists and my working methods are rooted in that aesthetic moment: I paint without a formal preconception, put a mark or a shape or a color down, look at it, change it, add another thing and so on. I don’t tinker and so every time I go back into a painting I’ll do something that opens up the entire surface. A typical painting might find itself on my easel a few hundred times in its gestation and you can see that I must lose a lot of stuff—there are paths not taken, good ideas that weren’t relevant to a particular painting. When I see that I am losing something of value, something beautiful or curious or interesting in some way, I’ll take the paint that’s on my palette and go and work on the paper and try to capture the element that’s disappearing and follow the logic of this new image wherever it wants to take me.” In addition to the upcoming exhibition at The Pace Gallery, Nozkowski will be the subject of an exhibition at the Arts Club of Chicago in 2012. In 2010, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Thomas Nozkowski (b. 1944, Teaneck, New Jersey) received a B.F.A. from The Cooper Union Art School in New York City in 1967. He began exhibiting in group shows in 1973, and made his solo debut in 1979 Nozkowski’s paintings have been in over 300 museum and gallery exhibitions worldwide, including 73 solo shows. In 2009 the National Gallery of Canada presented the largest exhibition of Nozkowski’s work to date, and in 2008 the Fisher Landau Center for Art in Long Island City, New York, presented Thomas Nozkowski: Paintings. In 2007, ten works were featured in Think with the Senses, Feel with the Mind – Art in the Present Tense, Robert Storr’s exhibition at the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Earlier that summer, Thomas Nozkowski: Subject to Change opened at the Ludwig Museum, Koblenz, Germany. The artist’s work is part of numerous public collections worldwide, including the Brooklyn Museum; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Dallas Museum of Art; The Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; FRAC (Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain), Orleans, France; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Ireland; The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Morgan Library and Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Musée d’art contemporain de Montreal, Canada; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The New York Public Library, New York; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Yale University Art Gallery, among others. Thomas Nozkowski lives and works in New York City and High Falls, New York. For more information about Thomas Nozkowski: Recent Work, please contact the Public Relations department of The Pace Gallery at 212.421.8987. For general inquiries, please email; for reproduction requests, email


Tyler Green interviews Thomas Nozkowski on the Modern Art Notes Podcast, discussing the works in Nozkowski's new exhibition at Pace. To download the podcast, click here. 

Engineers say that machines work with maximum efficiency right before they break. In 2010, the twin-engine art world—institutional display, luxury trade—ran all but frictionlessly. Frou-frous like those of Urs Fischer at the New Museum and Marina Abramović at the Modern, and of Dan Colen at Gagosian and Rob Pruitt at Gavin Brown, seemed immune to judgment, as if untouched by human minds. Money made slobbering love to itself at fairs and auctions, with art as a beard. Substantial shows could feel

Shortly before his exhibition at The Pace Gallery, Thomas Nozkowski and Rail Art Editor John Yau met at the gallery’s warehouse to discuss his new paintings and drawings. John Yau (Rail): I want to begin with the parameters of your painting project, which you had defined by the mid-1970s. By then you had moved from sculpture to painting. Thomas Nozkowski: By 1974 I was painting 16 by 20 inch canvas boards that would be recognizable today as my work. Rail: Along with working on 16 by 20 inch prep

OVER the centuries painters have used drawing to prepare for committing their ideas to posterity on canvas. Paper has been a material for sketching, planning and trying out a composition in advance of the main event. But for an exhibition at the Pace Gallery at 510 West 25th Street in Chelsea that opened this month, the veteran abstract painter Thomas Nozkowski took a different approach. He used drawing as a cool-down exercise rather than a warm-up. The show features 19 pairs of works, each one



Garth Lewis

2010. Pace Gallery. Paperback

64 pages: 45 color illustrations; 11 ¼ x 9 ¼ inches



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