John Little, Tharsis (Mars, Cloud Region), 1969
Oil on canvas,
90 x 76 inches
June 7 – July 7, 2012
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A student of Hans Hofmann and a friend of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, John Little (1907–1984) was at the center of the Abstract Expressionist movement as it unfolded in New York City and East Hampton, New York. Maintaining an active engagement with this groundbreaking aesthetic from the 1940s until his death in 1984, he created paintings in which he transposed nature into “a new equilibrium of form and space.” 1 His canvases are characterized by dynamic and explosive movements, conveying the searching, restlessness of his era, yet he also brought to them a sense of resolution and balance. For Little, the picture plane was akin to a magnetic field and he contained opposing forces, of buoyancy and gravity, of varying densities of form and color, of splintering and fusion, and of pressure and release through a process of animated involvement that is evident in his charged surfaces.
1 John Little, “Abstract Design is Good Design,” Retailing Home Furnishings (July 7, 1947), cited in Wolfe, 25.