Dean Richardson

Dean Richardson’s work sits squarely in the tradition of contemporary art making and this exhibition is a tribute to his legacy as an artist with a deep dedication to craft  and spiritual narrative. As a cultural commentator who demonstrates his academic agency through form and subject, it is evident in such works as Chief Gall 1989, that there is a reference to the democratization of a cultural competency that seeks to celebrate indigenous culture by recognizing the spirituality of his subjects. Dean’s aesthetic is not that of the colonizer but one of cultural reverence. - Ari Montford, Mashantucket Pequot

Cade Tompkins is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings that span the career of painter Dean Richardson. Each carefully considered subject has received the signature technique of Richardson’s painting style, impasto, which captures shapes and lines in subtle combinations creating the illusion of the figure with a reductive amount of strokes. A dash reveals a baseball cap, a canoe, or a rocky landscape. With the smallest amount of detail, a human face is revealed or the eye of an animal comes into view, standing out from the landscape.

 

Dean Richardson’s oil paintings are remarkable for the dark, silent settings and single-figure portrait style that include Native Americans, baseball players and majestic animals. About his work, the artist explained, “Our history is short but vivid, full of contradictions, truths, lies, myths, heroics and brutality … In my work I look for images that may express bits of what we were and what we have become.” In some cases, the deep forest is depicted with legends such as the first indigenous rainforest environmentalist and land rights advocate, Brazilian Chico Mendes, in the painting, Chico In the Forest 1995. Another painting with a sweeping view of land depicts Johnny Appleseed in John Chapman In Ohio 1987. Richardson focused on notable Native Americans such as in the painting Crazy Horse Disappearing 1989 and famous baseball players such as Black All Stars 1939, 1996and Stan (The Man) Musial in elegant motion in Baseball Series: Musial 1995.

 

As scholar and artist Ari Montford, Mashantucket Pequot, elegantly describes, Dean Richardson’s work sits squarely in the tradition of contemporary art making and this exhibition is a tribute to his legacy as an artist with a deep dedication to craft  and spiritual narrative. As a cultural commentator who demonstrates his academic agency through form and subject, it is evident in such works as Chief Gall 1989, that there is a reference to the democratization of a cultural competency that seeks to celebrate indigenous culture by recognizing the spirituality of his subjects. Dean’s aesthetic is not that of the colonizer but one of cultural reverence.

   

Dean Richardson studied at the Newark Academy of Fine Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Brooklyn Museum School, and Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst. Richardson received the Max Beckman Memorial Scholarship to the Brooklyn Museum School (1956-57); a Fulbright Scholarship, Berlin, Germany (1957-58); a Guggenheim Fellowship (1962); and a Mellon Grant (1986). Dean Richardson was an influential Professor of Painting at the Rhode Island School of Design from 1959-1994.  

 

Dean Richardson’s work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Butler Institute of American Art, the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, and the National Academy of Arts and Letters. Notable collections include the Whitney Museum of American Art, DeCordova Museum, Fuller Craft Museum, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Farnsworth Art Museum.