Pace Prints is pleased to present John Chamberlain: Process & Material. This exhibition will highlight a group of works on paper that were created by John Chamberlain (1927–2011) in the 1980s and 1990s as well as a small group of painted sculptures created in the 1970s. John Chamberlain: Process & Material will be on view at Pace Prints, 521 West 26th Street, 4th Floor, from November 12 to December 22, 2021.
John Chamberlain accomplished with crushed auto parts what the Abstract Expressionists accomplished with paint. He created vast, swirling compositions of colored metal scraps from automobiles that earned him international fame. In his prints, Chamberlain transposed dynamic color abstractions from his sculptures to two-dimensional surfaces. Branching from his work with crushed metal scraps, foam and other non-traditional materials, Chamberlain continued his material exploration with the printmakers at Pace Editions and onwards with other print studios, such as Graphicstudio, London Arts, Inc. and Topaz Editions.
The sculptures displayed from the early 1970s from his Small Foil Series were created from aluminum foil painted with lacquer and resin as a jumping off point; the viewer can imagine the artist using this type of object to stamp or print with as a mark-making tool for his work on paper.
In the early 1980s, Chamberlain’s Untitled monoprints included both scarred scrap metal and painted forms supported with a central dark line to stabilize a horizontal composition. This orientation, which was not explored previously in his work, directly influenced the etching Melon Collie Gondola 1, completed with Pace Editions in 1991. The horizontal landscape of these impressions continued to influence his practice, both in printmaking and sculpture.
Evolving once more, this time considering his typical scale and vertical orientation, Chamberlain’s monumental edition After Dogberry, created at Pace Editions in 1993, echoes his accomplishments with crushed automobile part sculptures. Working with the printmakers on this serigraph, relief printed crushed metal and other collaged elements were layered in each pass on the press. A heavy impasto of twenty-seven colors of ink, rather than oil paint, is marked on the surface clearly moving the two-dimensional work into a sculptural form.
Chamberlain applied the screenprinting process again to create abstractions akin to his sprayed pigment drawings and airbrushed paintings on metal. The results can be seen in the Lineup and Seawater series from 1998, in which they each have a simultaneously fluid, yet controlled spontaneity, generally associated with the Abstract Expressionist painters of the New York art scene at the time. Despite his and his peer’s rebellion against their predecessors’ school of thought, experimentation, expression, and celebration of materiality remained at the forefront in Chamberlain’s sculptures, prints and monoprints.
John Chamberlain attended the Art Institute of Chicago (1951–52) and Black Mountain College (1955–56), moving to New York in 1956. His work is exhibited throughout the United States, Europe with major exhibitions at Martha Jackson Gallery, New York (1960), the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1960), the Bienal de São Paulo (1961), the Venice Biennale (1964), the Cleveland Museum of Art (1967), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1971), Leo Castelli Gallery, New York (1976), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1986), the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1993), and Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2005). His work is in many major public collections including Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas; Menil Collection, Houston; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and Tate Modern, London. He had his first retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York in 1971, and a second in 2012, followed by more than one hundred solo exhibitions. He received numerous awards during his life, including the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (1993), the Lifetime Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture from the International Sculpture Center, Washington, DC (1993), the Gold Medal from the National Arts Club, New York (1997), a Distinction in Sculpture award from Sculpture Center, New York (1999), and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guildhall Academy, East Hampton, New York (2007).