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Image of Labyrinth #1

Stephen Greene , (Sep 19, 1917–Nov 18, 1999)

Labyrinth #1

20 3/4 in. x 28 5/8 in. (52.71 cm x 72.71 cm)

Medium and Support: mixed media on paper
Credit Line: gift of The Stephen Greene Foundation in honor of Frank Stella (PA 1954)
Accession Number: 2003.47


Born in New York, Stephen Greene began his art study at New York’s National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. At the University of Iowa where he received his BFA and MFA, Greene was fortunate to meet and become friends with artist Philip Guston. The influence of Guston’s restrained figurative style followed by four years at the American Academy in Rome encouraged Greene’s own figurative work of the 40s and 50s. By the 1960s the artist had developed a mature style that New York Times critic Roberta Smith described as the combination of “biomorphic, Surrealist-flavored early states of Abstract Expressionism with the scale, fluidity and glowing hues of Color Field painting. . . it was an impressively complete fusion: unfailingly intelligent, sure of touch, and gorgeous of color . . . .with an unusual aura of poetic tension and personal, almost narrative intonation.”

Like his own mentor, Philip Guston, Greene went on to teach, befriend, and guide generations of painters, first at Princeton where Frank Stella studied with him in the 50s, then at Pratt Institute where he became a colleague of Jake Berthot, at Columbia University where Andy Jansons and Porfirio Di Donna were among his students in the mid-60s, and finally at Tyler School of Art where he encountered Lisa Yuskavage in the 1980s. A sensitive and influential teacher he encouraged all his students to remain faithful to their individual visions.

Labyrinth, a series of fifteen works on paper completed in the year of his death, reveals Greene at the height of his powers. In reviewing the memorial exhibition, Stephen Greene Painter and Mentor, presented by the Addison in 2003, Boston Globe critic Cate McQuaid wrote of Labyrinth, “Brush stroke has given way to paint so soft it’s often just a luminous mist of tones. Out of that mist, like hail, dart fragile gestures in pencil and pen that pit their frenetic energy against the serene, joyful quality of the paint.”

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

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