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Ivan & Genevieve Reitman: A Life in Pictures

The Stripper

The Stripper
signed and dated 'Joan Snyder March 1973' (on the overlap)
oil, acrylic, spray enamel, canvas strips, thread, glitter and tape on canvas
60 ¼ x 115 ½ in. (153 x 293.4 cm.)
Executed in 1973.
Private collection
Hirschl & Adler Modern, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1989
Studio International Journal of Modern Art, vol. 188, no. 968, July-August 1974, p. 32 (illustrated).
Joan Snyder: Seven Years of Work, exh. cat., New York, 1978, p. 20.

Brought to you by

Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-Head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

It’s probably true that there’s nothing new under the sun. But there’s still our lives, and our fears, and loves and complexities—and there’s still color in the world and lines and shapes and sounds and words. Joan Snyder, 1975

A transfixing, mural-like early painting by Joan Snyder, The Stripper typifies the artist’s exuberant use of color and engagement with the grid. A standout of Snyder’s Stroke Paintings, the present work utilizes strips of painted canvas to create tactile horizon lines within the monumental field. Art historian Hayden Herrera observes that these patches evince “[Snyder’s] identification of the canvas with flesh,” and that The Stripper shows her “increasing urge toward a sculptural, emotion-charged tactility” (H. Herrera, Joan Snyder: Seven Years of Work, exh. cat., Neuberger Museum, New York, 1978, p. 20). This intensity of vision and affect has earned The Stripper an important place within Snyder’s oeuvre, it was included in an important early solo exhibition at the Neuberger Museum at SUNY Purchase (State University of New York) in 1978.

The Stripper, with the vibrant colors of a landscape by J.M.W. Turner or Claude Monet, combines shades of cobalt, crimson, yellow, and black to stunning effect. This chromatic intensity is complemented by Snyder’s application of canvas strips, which recall the radiant and tactile collages of Lee Krasner or the experimental and bold genius of Eva Hesse. Yet The Stripper is undeniably Snyder’s style, especially with its punning title that could refer to the painting’s facture or exotic dancing. The beauty of the present work lies in its capaciousness and openness. In a 1974 review of an exhibition of work by Snyder and Pat Steir, Artforum concludes, “Snyder’s art remains one of ambiguity, of the continual shifting and reordering of perception that asks instead of tells how to understand” (S. Heinemann, “Pat Steir and Joan Snyder: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston,” Artforum, December 1974).

Snyder, a fixture in the American art world for over four decades, participated in the 1973 and 1981 Whitney Biennials and the 1975 Corcoran Biennial. Her relevance has not waned since the 1970s and 1980s, when she was a founding member of the emerging feminist art movement. As Marcia Tucker, founder of the New Museum, extolled in her 1971 review of Snyder's recent paintings, "Snyder’s dictum of 'more; not less,' the welter of visual contradiction in her work, her continued concern with making impossibles exist in the same frame of reference, all amount to a pictorial reality which shares, in its richness, the reality of our own experience" (M. Tucker, "The Anatomy of a Stroke: Recent Paintings by Joan Snyder," Artforum, May 1971). Her work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Tate London, and the Art Institute of Chicago, and her solo shows have been celebrated worldwide. A 2007 MacArthur Fellow, she has been included in numerous international group exhibitions, including the important 2018 survey Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Finally, in 2022, a five-decade survey of her work was featured at Frieze New York, singled out by The New York Times co-chief art critic Roberta Smith in her review (R. Smith, “At the Shed, Frieze II Takes Off,” The New York Times, May 19, 2022).

Snyder’s paintings from the 1970s undeniably speak to their time and place, especially with the debates in painting in the wake of Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and Color Field painting. Yet The Stripper is also timeless. It prefigures current reengagements with abstraction and assemblage, and it illustrates the new horizon forged by generations of painters. At nearly 10 feet long, The Stripper takes us into its folds and creases, not to subsume us, but rather to offer a moment of respite in a fast-paced world.

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