"Art is all, everything. It's an obligation to something other than self. When I'm doing it, I feel wholesome."
Stanley Boxer (1926-2000) has been called an abstract expressionist and a color field painter, a maximalist and a lyrical abstractionist. As New York Times art critic Grace Glueck wrote in a review of a 2004 Boxer retrospective, the painter, sculptor and printmaker was "never part of a movement or trend," but rather driven by the "physical possibilities [of his materials] without script or program."
Boxer was born in New York City and raised in Williamsburg. He served in the Navy during World War II, and studied at the Art Students League of New York on the GI Bill.
Early in his career, the artist focused on figurative work. His first solo exhibition in New York was in 1953. By the 1960s, he was represented by the Tibor de Nagy gallery and had switched to abstraction. Legendary art critic Clement Greenberg saw his work there and declared Boxer a color field painter, a label the artist rejected because it was too narrow.
"I have deliberately made a practice of being 'visionless,'" Boxer proclaimed. "This is, I go where my preceding art takes me, and never try to redirect the future as to what my art should look like."
In 1975, Boxer started showing his work at the Andre Emmerich Gallery and received a Guggenheim Fellowship.
The paintings in our collection date to the 1980's, when Boxer was creating dramatically textured works that earned him a reputation as a "sculptor of paint."
"Boxer really hit his stride in ... works with lots of thick paint and splashes of color," wrote Richard Waller of the Harnett Museum of Art. "He sold a lot, and his success in the art world in the 1980s gave him the freedom to do what he wanted to do most." In 1989, Boxer was honored with a Visual Artists Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Boxer switched galleries yet again in 1993, exhibiting at the Salander-O'Reilly Galleries for the rest of his life. He was 73 years old when he died in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
John Cauman discussed Boxer's diverse output and innovative philosophy in a 1972 review: "If a single ongoing theme characterizes the work of Stanley Boxer ... it is the perpetual striving for directness of expression. Boxer applies this impulse to three distinct mediums—painting, drawing, and sculpture—without imitating himself in any of these mediums. By realizing the limitations of each, and exploring the intrinsic qualities of its materials, he manages to open up new possibilities for his art and to rediscover old ones."
Boxer created over 7,000 artworks during his lifetime. His work is in numerous permanent collections, including the MoMA, the Guggenheim and the Whitney.