Oil on canvas
84 x 66 inches
Wichita Art Museum, Gift of the Art Students League of New York
Not Currently on Display
About the Artwork
Abstract Expressionism was undoubtedly the dominant contemporary artistic idiom in American painting during the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s. The same general movement with variations was perpetuated into the ensuing two decades and to some extent has remained very much alive down to the present. One of the most accomplished and most promising exponents during the 1960s was Sidney Gross whose frequent New York exhibitions of his massive canvases were widely acclaimed until his untimely death at age 48 in 1969.
Stylistically, Gross added a new dimension by introducing a hard-edge quality to splintery and irregular multicolored forms. These characteristic tendencies are clear in this work executed by Gross in 1966 and titled Solar Rendezvous. At the left in the painting is what seems to be a chaotically organized cluster of small, brightly-colored interlocking shapes, some regular, others irregular. In sharp contrast is the more orderly arrangement of the structure at the right that appears to be energetically charged and, like a rocket, soars upwards, linking the massive black area in the lower register of the canvas with the pure white space above, unbroken but for the delicate orange and blue diagonal bars at the extreme upper right. What is especially interesting is that the entire composition suggests how the space-age consciousness of the 1960s could find symbolic expression in a work of art in abstract form rather than in visually representational terms.
Most essentially, however, this composition constitutes a complex combination of free forms and color contrasts superimposed upon a highly controlled background of pure geometry. It illustrates that one of the most significant stylistic achievements of Sidney Gross as a second generation abstract expressionist was his extremely sensitive ability to harmonize the opposing romantic and classical poles of expression that for many centuries have dominated Western thought and the character of Western art, both in America and abroad.
Sidney Gross was born in New York City in 1921. He studied at the Art Students League, and during his career, was the recipient of numerous scholarships and painting awards. He was an instructor at the Parsons School of Design, the Art Students League and Columbia University. His works appeared in major exhibitions throughout the country, including the Carnegie Institute, the Pennsylvania Academy, the National Academy of Design and elsewhere. Gross died in New York in 1969.