Stephen Westfall

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Stephen Westfall
Schenectady, New York
EducationUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Stephen Westfall (born 1953 Schenectady, New York) is an American painter, critic, and professor at Rutgers University and Bard College.[1]


When Stephen Westfall was an adolescent, he was fascinated by the social spaces created by architecture. By age twelve, he was bringing home books about Louis Kahn, Le Corbusier, and Luis Barragán, architects who carved up space with colored walls.[2] Barragan was more polychromatic, but even white was a color for Corbusier, who also added color to his interior walls in his chapel masterpiece. Stephen Westfall attended University of California, Santa Barbara with a B.A. and M.F.A. in 1978.[3]

After an art class taken at the College of Creative Studies in Santa Barbara which further ignited his already creative spirit, he picked up an art major to go with a Literature major. As a student, he loved 60’s American abstract painting because it seemed to address interior space with the same forthrightness that the architects he admired addressed exterior space.[citation needed] He later received his Master of Fine Arts also from the University of California, Santa Barbara. While he was still an undergraduate, he also began writing art criticism for Art Week, then the only art magazine on the west coast. He has continued to write art criticism after he moved to New York (state), beginning with Arts Magazine in 1981.


Stephen Westfall’s paintings have charted a course between post-minimalist geometries and a Pop inflected awareness of a painting as a thing in the world.[4] The brightly colored diamonds, triangles and trapezoids in his most recent canvases are conjoined into dynamic compositional skeins that seem to lean into space rather than recede. Drawing on Caucasian and Navajo Rug, [[medieval heraldry, Byzantine floor tile, early twentieth-century abstraction, architecture and Pop, Minimalist and Postminimalism, Westfall’s abstraction is deeply acculturated while formally honed into an active, perceptual immediacy.[5]
Over the course of the last decade, Westfall has focused his work to address architecture more directly and wall paintings have become his way to fuse paintings to architectural scale. He regards these paintings as now being essential to his artistic practice as his paintings on canvas and paper, which are bound by more conventional notions of portability and transferability.[citation needed] Important exhibitions of these wall paintings have taken place at Art Omi in 2014, The McNay Art Museum in 2015, and at the Museum of Art, Architecture and Design at the University of California, Santa Barbara, also in 2015.[citation needed]

In 2018, Westfall worked closely with Queens-based glass fabricator Depp Glass to create the 47 laminated glass panels installed at the 30 Ave Subway Station in New York City. The scale, mirrored glass, and merging movement invoke not only the repertoire of processional themes in classical friezes, but also the movement of public transportation in our contemporary life, in particular the shuttering of light through the mezzanine windows and the bustle of commuters in our mass transit system.[6]


After Westfall received his MFA in 1978 from the University of California, Santa Barbara, he had his first solo exhibition in 1984 at Tracey Garet in New York’s East Village and earned reviews that took note of his particular brand of geometric abstraction. Exhibitions followed during the 1980s and into the 1990s at Daniel Newburg Gallery in New York, Galerie Paal in Munich, Germany and Galerie Wilma Lock in St. Gallen, Switzerland. An exhibition of paintings took place at Andre Emmerich Gallery in New York in 1995, followed by several exhibitions at Galerie Zurcher in Paris. Recent work has been exhibited at Kunstgaleriebonn in Germany, David Richard Gallery in Santa Fe, Galerie Gisela Clement in Germany, Robischon Gallery in Denver, LA Projects in Germany, and Anne Morreseri-Marlio Galerie, Switzerland.[7]

Westfall has been included in several important survey exhibitions of abstract painting including Abstraction/abstractions, geometries provisoires at the Musée d’art Moderne in Saint-Etienne, France in 1997 and in both exhibitions titled Conceptual Abstraction, first at Sidney Janis Gallery in 1991 and in the exhibition that revisited that show which took place at the Hunter College Art Gallery in 2012.[citation needed]

Works by the artist are in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Kemper Museum in Kansas City, the Louisiana Museum in Humlebaek, Denmark, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, the Munson Williams Proctor Museum in Utica, New York, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

His writing has appeared in Art in America, Vogue (magazine), Flash Art, New York (magazine), Hyperallergic, The New York Times, Arts Magazine, ARTnews, Partisan Review, and The New Criterion.[8]


Westfall has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Nancy Graves Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He received a Rome Prize Fellowship and spent a year at the American Academy in Rome during 2009 and 2010. He has been a professor at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University since 2005, and a tenured professor since 2010. He was also painting chair at Bard University's Milton Avery School of the Arts for a number of years and now serves as a lecturer. He is a Contributing Editor at Art in America.[9]

  • 2019 NYS AIA Excelsior Award (MTA Astoria Station Project)[citation needed]
  • Americans for the Arts 2019 Public Art Network (PAN) Year in Review (Astoria Station Project)[citation needed]
  • 2009 Rome Prize.[10][11]
  • 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship[citation needed]
  • 2006 Nancy Graves Grant for Visual Artists[citation needed]
  • 2005 Princeton University Fellow, Humanities Council
  • 2002 Academy Award in Painting, American Academy of Arts and Letters[citation needed]
  • 1993 National Endowment for the Arts
  • 1989 National Endowment for the Arts
  • 1988 New York State Council on the Arts
  • 1987 National Endowment for the Arts
  • 1986 New York State Council on the Arts



  1. ^ "Stephen Westfall".
  2. ^ "Cooper & Smith Gallery | Stephen Westfall | oil paintings". cooperandsmith. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-12-02. Retrieved 2010-06-19.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "stephen westfall". Alexandre Gallery. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  5. ^ "stephen westfall". Alexandre Gallery. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  6. ^ "MTA - Arts & Design | NYCT Permanent Art". Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  7. ^ "stephen westfall". Alexandre Gallery. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  8. ^ "Stephen Westfall, Blackbird".
  9. ^ "Bio". Stephen Westfall. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-07-03. Retrieved 2010-06-19.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^

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