Pat Steir

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Pat Steir
Pat Steir.JPG
Steir in 2014.
Born 1938
Newark, New Jersey
Nationality American
Education Pratt Institute.
Boston University College of Fine Arts.
Known for Painting, Printmaking

Pat Steir is an American painter and printmaker.


Steir was born in 1938 in Newark, New Jersey, and currently lives and works in New York City. She attended the Pratt Institute in New York from 1956 to 1958, and Boston University College of Fine Arts from 1958 to 1960. She then returned to Pratt, receiving a BFA in 1962. Both institutions have since honored Steir: Boston University in 2001 with a Distinguished Alumni Award, Pratt in 1991 with an honorary doctorate.


Early years[edit]

Pat Steir, Nothing, oil on canvas, 1974, Honolulu Museum of Art

In 1962, the year she graduated from art school, Steir was included in a group show at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1964, her work was in a show called “Drawings” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Her first one-person exhibition was at the Terry Dintenfass Gallery, New York, in 1964. During that time, she worked in New York as an illustrator and a book designer. Around 1970 she became friends with Sol LeWitt, Lawrence Weiner, and other conceptual artists, and she made a trip to New Mexico to visit Agnes Martin.

She rose to fame in the 1970s with monochromatic canvases of roses and other images that were X-ed out. The artist explained, “I wanted to destroy images as symbols. To make the image a symbol for a symbol. I had to act it out―make the image and cross it out. …no imagery, but at the same time endless imagery. Every nuance of paint texture worked as an image.”[1] Nothing from 1974, in the collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art, is an example of this phase of the artist's work.

Mature work[edit]

Wind and Water, color soap ground aquatint with soap ground aquatint reversal, spit bite aquatint and drypoint, 1996.

Pat Steir’s first museum exhibition, in 1973 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., marks the beginning of a career dense with painting exhibitions. She has also made installation work (shown at Documenta IX, Kassel, Germany, in 1992) and is an important printmaker. Crown Point Press began publishing her prints in 1977 and in 1983 the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, gave her a print and drawing exhibition. A print retrospective at the Cabinet des Estampes in Geneva traveled to the Tate Gallery in London. Steir has had one-person painting exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum in 1984 and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York in 1987, both of which traveled to other museums, many in Europe.

Starting in the late 1980s, Steir produced dripped, splashed and poured works, embracing the element of chance. The artist relates this work to the 8th and 9th century Chinese Yipin "ink-splashing" painters.[2] Wind and Water is an example of this phase of her work. In 1995, the monograph Pat Steir was published by the American art critic Thomas McEvilley, chronicling the artists' life work up to that point. In November 1999, Steir was the subject of an Art In America cover feature, "Watercourse Way," by critic G. Roger Denson, claiming that Steir's lyrical waterfall paintings attest to her long-standing interest in Asian art and thought, particularly the ancient Chinese philosophy of Daoism, with Steir's literal and figurative motif embodying the flow of water (or in her case paint) down a surface.

Describing Steir's 2010 installation at Sue Scott Gallery, The Nearly Endless Line, consisting of a while line snaking around the gallery's blue-black walls, lit with blue light, Sharon Butler writes in The Brooklyn Rail: "Walking through the darkened space, observers find themselves inside Steir’s painting, where they become part of the illusion she has created with paint and light."[3]


Steir recently received a 2008 Pratt Institute Alumni Achievement Award "nominated by their schools and fellow alumni for exceptional achievements since graduation from Pratt."

In May 2016 Franklin Furnace announced in its online newsletter Goings On that FF alumn painter Pat Steir had been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The artist is represented by Dominique Lévy Gallery[4] in New York and London.


The Honolulu Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), the Museum of Modern Art (New York City), the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D. C.), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis),the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York City), the Tate Gallery (London) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York City) are among the public collections holding artwork by Pat Steir. She is represented by Cheim and Read in New York.


  1. ^ Dominique-Lévy Gallery
  2. ^ Cheim and Read Gallery]
  3. ^ Butler, Sharon (January 2011). "Pat Steir: The Nearly Endless Line". The Brooklyn Rail. 
  4. ^ Greenberger, Alex. "Dominique Lévy Adds Pat Steir to its Roster, Plans September show in London". ARTnews. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  • Steir, Pat, Pat Steir paintings, New York, Abrams, 1986.
  • Steir, Pat, Arbitrary Order, Paintings by Pat Steir, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas, 1983.
  • Steir, Pat, Dazzling Water, Dazzling Light, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 2000.
  • McEvilley, Thomas, "Pat Steir", New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1995.
  • Denson, G. Roger, "Watercourse Way," Art In America, November 1999, pgs. 114-121, with a painting by Steir appearing on the front cover.

External links[edit]