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Larry Poons

Born 1937, Tokyo, Japan.

Larry Poons was born in Japan in 1937 to American parents and a year later the family moved back to the USA. Music was his first interest and he studied at the New England Conservatory of Music from 1966-1957 but art became a stronger attraction and a year later he enrolled at the Boston Museum Art School.

Poon's work went through a number of distinct phases during his early career. In his first paintings he sought to transpose musical structures into abstract geometrical compositions but by 1962 had moved on to a starkly simplified visual language consisting of single dots of paint arranged on vertical and horizontal axes and floating against monochrome backgrounds. The apparent simplicity of the design belies the rigorous and methodical system by which the basic motif was distributed across the field to create a rhythm of repeats and intervals. He was counted among the Lyrical Abstractionists in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1967 he abandoned the grid system and moved from the Op Art mode to a more expressionist style: ‘action painting’ using rich, randomly applied colour and vigorous, gestural mark-making. This has characterised his highly acclaimed work to the present day.

Poons has been acquired for many collections throughout the world, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., the Tate in London, the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Netherlands, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut.