|Known for||Painting, Writing|
Lipsky grew up in New York City. She graduated with a BFA from Cornell University in 1963, receiving an MFA from the Graduate Program in Painting at Manhattan's Hunter College, where she studied with the painter and sculptor Tony Smith.
Raised by a painter mother and an engineer father, Lipsky had her first one-woman show in New York, at the André Emmerich Gallery. Her work at the time was strongly in the mode of "Lyrical Abstraction." The 1969 canvas Spiked Red (Collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Bienstock, New York) demonstrates Lipsky's then-approach: close hues, bright color waves and bursts. In The New York Times, the critic Hilton Kramer found that the painter's work looked both to the aesthetic past and future: "Miss Lipsky reintroduces the drip, splatter and smear of abstract expressionism for notable anti-expressionist purposes ... She also demonstrates a very clear identity of her own. Her pictures are very handsome, and it will be interesting to see how she develops what is already a bold pictorial intelligence."
Lipsky was invited to participate in the influential 1970-1971 Lyrical Abstraction exhibition which traveled the country and culminated at New York's Whitney Museum; the critic Noel Frackman highlighted her contributions for freshness, gesture and exuberance, finding the style "sustained a mood which celebrates the sheer splendor of color. The edges of these shapes lick out like flames and there is an incendiary vividness in the impetuous yet directed forms ... These are mouth-watering paintings."
By the later seventies and eighties, Lipsky had expanded her palette to include bolder colors and geometric forms. She had also begun to explore, as the critic Katherine Crum later wrote, a pictorial vocabulary in direct challenge to her roots in lyrical abstraction. By 2003, the critic Karen Wilkin would declare Lipsky in The New Criterion to be an "unrepentant abstract painter." Wilkin found in the work, "A lifetime's accumulated experience of all kinds, including the experience of looking at art. That, of course, is what all art worth taking seriously—whether abstract, figurative, or somewhere in between—is supposed to address."
In the 1980s and 1990s Lipsky continued to refine her broader color concerns, achieving a brooding, more sharply defined palette. A selection of works from this period, "The Black Paintings," was exhibited in Miami in 1994 and New York City in 1997. Wilkin found the "deliberately limited" dark work of this period to be "dramatic" and "powerful." The critic Elisa Turner again described them as a step away from the "sleekness" of modern abstract painting, toward the direction of vertigo, emotion, and ambiguity: "This vertigo adds an unnerving, emotionally-charged twist to the tradition of sleek, impersonal abstract art ... Such ambiguity about the location of lines and shapes in space is echoed in her exquisite sense of color." The New Yorker magazine instead drew a connection of her work in this period to the "classic" style of calmly modernist painters Piet Mondrian and Paul Klee.
In the 2000s, Lipsky began another redefinition of palette, reincorporating color within a bold central image. Writing in the New York Times, the critic Ken Johnson associated these pictures with mechanical forms and music. Noting their "seductive, egg-shell surfaces," Johnson linked them to the minimalist painters Frank Stella and Ad Reinhardt. "The effect is polyrhythmic in three dimensions; the bands seem to push up and down like valves in a machine[,] enhancing the feeling of Bach-like musicality. The more you gaze at them, the more absorbing they become." Lipsky began to focus on single images presented in series. Her more recent exhibitions have contained repeating colors, in a stripped and repeated form. The painter and critic Stephen Westfall, in Art in America, called these paintings "her most successful," finding her "classicism" to be "ultimately idiosyncratic in the best sense," and finding a link to Ad Reinhart and Philip Guston: "Guston meeting Reinhardt, then; a synthesis that, however full of painting culture, feels just right in our present moment." The critic David Cohen, in The New York Sun, noted instead the opposite of classicism, "a steely, seemingly dispassionate composure" that contained "seething reserves of aesthetic emotion," stating, "Lipsky is not merely the dean of contemporary geometric abstraction but its dominatrix."
Karen Wilkin, reviewing Lipsky's 2006 exhibition, discovered in the work a simplicity that served the reverse function—to be ultimately liberating: "Lipsky's complex, richly allusive counterpoint demands that we pay close attention to her paintings as paintings ... and then rewards us by setting free our imaginations."
Lipksy's paintings are represented in twenty-five public collections, including The Whitney Museum, The Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Boca Raton Museum of Art, The Walker Art Center, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Harvard's Fogg Art Museum.
While Lipsky is sometimes identified with the Post-Painterly Abstraction school centered around the critic Clement Greenberg, a long-time friend of the painter, others have disputed this view. In a 2007 interview, Lipsky listed a broad range of influences, from outside the field of visual arts:
I'm interested in what 'difference' means. My reading of Proust and Eliot, my viewing of Bellini and Giorgione and Titian and Albers and Cornell and Pollock, my listening to Bach and Thelonious Monk, my liking Eric Rohmer and Monty Python might seem totally unrelated, but they teach the same lesson: differences matter. When Monk plays a single note instead of another, a piece is either saved or ruined. When Albers puts a white next to a yellow, the yellow is changed—and the white is changed too. If Proust chooses to follow one character instead of another, to write fifty pages instead of four, the reader's experience is altered in the most intimate and immediate way. We look at works of art as single large units—but they're actually composed of hundreds, of thousands of individual and tiny units, each one a decision. It's those units that I've been experimenting with throughout my career.
Lipsky has also discussed the influence of first-generation abstract expressionists like Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, along with second-generation painters like Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis, as well as her mentor, Tony Smith.
- 2012 Department of State, Art in Embassies
- 2008 National Academy of Design Invitational Exhibition
- 2008 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant
- 2003 Lincoln Center Print Editions Keyboard Variations
- 2001 American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Hassam Speicher Betts Purchase Prize
- 2000 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant
- 1999 Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Grant
- 1999 Jerome Foundation, Dark Love (the Black Paintings)
- 1998 New York Foundation for the Arts, Dark Love
- 1998 New York State Council on the Arts, Dark Love
- 1996 New York Foundation for the Arts, Painting in Ireland
- 1992 New York Foundation for the Arts, Painting in France
- 1972 New York State Council on the Arts
- Crum, Katherine. Woman's Art Journal. "Pat Lipsky and the Challenge of Formalism." Volume 14, 1993
- Kramer, Hilton. The New York Times. "Two Interesting Talents Make Their Debut. Pat Lipsky Displays Color Field Works." 13 June 1970
- Frackman, Noel. Arts Magazine. "Lyrical Abstraction." June, 1970.
- Kramer, Hilton. The New York Times. "Pat Lipsky." 29 October 1976.
- Wilkin, Karen. The New Criterion. "Anywhere In Between." June, 2003.
- Turner, Elisa. The Miami Herald. "Diamonds and Other Gems." 14 January 1994
- Wilkin, Karen. "Pat Lipsky: The Black Paintings." Bookstein Fine Arts, 1997
- Wilkin, Karen. PAJ—Journal of Performance and Art. MIT Press, Cambridge Mass. ""Formalist Investigations of Medieval Forms: Pat Lipsky and the Spirit of Color." January, 2003.
- Worth, Alexi. The New Yorker. "Pat Lipsky." 4 October 1999
- Johnson, Ken. The New York Times. "Pat Lipsky." 4 April 2003.
- Westfall, Stephen. Art In America. "Pat Lipsky at Elizabeth Harris." 1 February 2005.
- Cohen, David. The New York Sun. "Pat Lipsky." 23 September 2004.
- Wilkin, Karen. Art in America. "Pat Lipsky." March, 2007.
- Sherwin, Brian. "Artspace Interview with Pat Lipsky." 9 September, 2007
- Sherwin, Brian. "Artspace Interview with Pat Lipsky." 9 September 2007.
- Lipsky, Pat. "What Tony and Lee and Clem Told Me: A Reminiscence." Pat Lipsky Papers, Smithsonian Archives of American Art
- History of International Art, Mario Monteverdi (Editor),Universita' Della Arti, Italy, 1981-1992.
- Trends and testimonies of Contemporary Art, Accademia Italia, Salsomaggiore, Italy, 1983.
- Women Artists in America, 18th Century to the Present, Jim Collins and Glenn Opitz (Editors), New York, 1980.
- Who's Who In American Art, Allison McGowan (Editor), 2004 (25th Edition).
- Pat Lipsky Papers, Lipsky, Pat, Smithonian Archives of American Art, Washington, D.C., 1997.
- Pat Lipsky: An Interview by Ira Goldberg, LINEA | How Artists Think, New York, 2013
- Official website
- David Cohen on Pat Lipsky
- Art in America, February 2005, "Pat Lipsky" http://images.dcmooregallery.com/www_dcmooregallery_com/Art_in_America_2.pdf
- The New York Times, February 2003, "Pat Lipsky" http://images.dcmooregallery.com/www_dcmooregallery_com/NY_Times.pdf