Zombie Formalism: 1969–2016
October 29–December 22, 2016
Whitney Claflin Tom Evans Megan Marrin Carol Haerer
Mark Prent Boyd Rice Walter Robinson Julia Rommel Jeff Way
Zombie Formalism, a term coined by Walter Robinson and fleshed out by Jerry Saltz, refers to the glut of look-alike, generic abstract field painting produced over the past few years by young, mostly male, artists. The style however, is not new. It goes back decades, dating to the end of art movements, arising from the middens of minimalism and conceptual art in the early 1970s. Known at the time as lyrical abstraction, the style codified abstract painting as a procedural Danse Macabre, generating art with a diversely uniform look, manifest in rule-bound yet random outcomes. Seen from a contemporary perspective lyrical abstraction remains a force to be reckoned with.
The current exhibition includes four painters and a sculptor exhibiting work from 1970s, plus Walter Robinson, Zombie Abstraction’s neologian, who in the 1980s put his own timely spin on abstract painting’s endgame. Shown in current context, their art would stand among today’s best and most ambitious.
All but one of these artists are men, as are the bulk of Zombie Abstraction’s current practitioners. The show includes the work of three emerging women artists, Whitney Claflin, Megan Marrin and Julia Rommel, whose differing takes on painting’s current incarnations are inverse historical commentary and counterpoint.