Susan York

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Susan York
Born1951 (age 67–68)
Years active1980s-present

Susan York (born 1951)[1] is an American artist and educator,[2] primarily known for her reductive cast graphite sculpture, and a working process that merges precise geometrical forms with unexpected elements of asymmetry. She lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico where the quality of light and expansive emptiness of the high desert landscape provides inspiration for her minimalist approach.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

York was born in Newport, Rhode Island.[1]

In 1972, York received a BFA in studio arts from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.[4] In 1995, York received an MFA in ceramics from Cranbrook Academy of Art.[5]


Early work[edit]

While in college, York created a body of floor-oriented assemblage work.[6] These flat reductive works marked the early stages of her fascination with transitions between 2D and 3D materials. York states that a fundamental aspect of her art process involves the primary question: "When does one state become the other? How do I “take apart” a solid form and render it flat? How do I take a flat shape and make it 3-dimensional?"[7]

After graduating from UNM, York continued her art practice in Santa Fe, where she had a studio space at a local Zen Center. In 1982, York attended an Agnes Martin lecture, where she recalls the impact of Martin's statement: ‘‘My paintings are not about what is seen. They are about what is known forever in the mind.’’. This was a pivotal experience in her development as an artist and an important event foreshadowing a mentoring friendship that evolved, in years to follow, between York and Martin.[8]

In 1995, after York completed her graduate studies in ceramics at Cranbrook Academy of Art, she returned to Northern New Mexico, where she continued to explore tentative relationships between flat and dimensional forms. With a reverence for "truth in materials" and a sensitivity to the particular characteristics of her chosen medium, York intently focused her attentions on a sculptural practice that commonly involved combinations of porcelain, graphite, and steel.[6]


In 1997, as an artist in residence at the European Ceramic Work Center in the Netherlands, York engaged in a particularly informative period of experimentation. She began to integrate a dialogue between the forms she created and their position within the architecture of a given space. Her preoccupation with the balancing act between tension and tranquility, led to compositions of stacked fragile porcelain shards, positioned alongside the weight of objects blackened by graphite powder rubbed surfaces. Suspension and gravity became central elements in this new discourse and her appreciation for the possibilities of working with graphite inspired a particular curiosity in the casting process.[9]

After her time in the Netherlands, York returned to Santa Fe and began to involve drawing as an integral part of her art practice. York explains, “In developing the graphite forms, sometimes I make 50-100 drawings before I get a shape that is symmetrical but slightly skewed, which has a subtle tension that is sometimes felt more than it is seen. My aim is for you to feel the tension but not necessarily see it.”[10]

York's appreciation for precision, coupled with the subtle irregularities inherent in her forms, are clearly associated with the principles of Minimalism, but unlike the machined industrial sculpture being produced by her predecessors in the 60's, her work bears the traces of a disciplined and meditative hands-on process of making.[11] Harmony Hammond, in a review of York's work, stated that "Susan York represents a new generation of minimalist sculptors. While her formal vocabulary of columns, beams and slabs is heavily indebted to such artists as Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, John McCracken, Ronald Bladen and Richard Serra, her choice of graphite as a material (cast solid, kiln-fired, shaped into irregular geometric forms with saws and files, then hand-polished) contributes a sense of warmth, mutability and body missing from the industrially fabricated work of the mid-'60s".[11]

Personal life[edit]

York is married. She has a daughter. She lives in New Mexico.[2]

Selected exhibitions[edit]

Selected solo exhibitions[edit]

Selected group exhibitions[edit]

  • 2004: Implicit Plasticity, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • 2008: Gravitas, Dorsky Projects, Long Island City, NY[18]
  • 2012: Alcove 12.5, Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM[19]
  • 2014: Hauptsache Grau #4, Mies van der Rohe Haus, Berlin, Germany[20]

Selected collections[edit]

Selected public collections[edit]

Selected private collections[edit]

  • The Panza Collection, Lugano, Switzerland
  • Wynn and Sally Kramarsky, NY, NY
  • Irving & Jackie Blum, New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA
  • Brett Littman and Kara Vander Weg, NY, NY
  • Tobias Hestler, Zürich, Switzerland

Selected honors and awards[edit]

  • 1996: Fulbright Fellowship – Finalist
  • 1997: Europees Keramisch Werkcentrum (European Ceramic Work Center), s’Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands – Artist Residency
  • 2007: Joan Mitchell Foundation – Fellowship for Painters and Sculptors[21]
  • 2012: Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI – Alumni Achievement Award
  • 2012: UCross Foundation, Ucross, Wyoming – Herb Alpert Fellow, Alpert Foundation Award for residency
  • 2018: Bullseye Resource Center Residency, Santa Fe, New Mexico – Artist Residency
  • 2019: The Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation Individual Support Grant[22]
  • 2019: Royal Society of Sculptors, London England – Fellow

Works and publications[edit]

  • York, Susan (4 December 2005). "Geese Flying". The New York Times.
  • York, Susan; Lippard, Lucy R (essays by); Karp, Diane R (essays by) (2008). Susan York: 3 Columns (Exhibition catalog). Santa Fe, NM: Lannan Foundation. OCLC 602020615.
  • Sze, Arthur (poems by); York, Susan (drawings by); Yau, John (2013). The Unfolding Center. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Radius Books. ISBN 978-1-934-43569-4. OCLC 959622191.


  1. ^ a b "Substance: 29 Nov 2018 — 2 Feb 2019 at the dr. julius: ap in Berlin, Germany". WSI Magazine. Wall Street International. 13 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b Roberts, Kathaleen (20 March 2016). "NM artist displays minimal sculptures alongside Georgia O'Keeffe masterpieces". Albuquerque Journal.
  3. ^ Lippard, Lucy R. (2008). "Between Tension and Tranquility". Lannan Foundation.
  4. ^ "Album". Mirage Magazine. UNM Alumni Association. 34 (1): 21. Spring 2014. Susan York ('72 BAFA), a sculptor, is a 2013 recipient of the Santa Fe Mayor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts.
  5. ^ "Susan York receives Cranbrook Academy of Art Alumni Achievement Award". James Kelly Contemporary. 6 November 2012.
  6. ^ a b Riley, Jan (1 July 2008). "Eliminating Subject and Object, A Conversation with Susan York". Sculpture Magazine.
  7. ^ York, Susan (2012). "Artist Statement". Susan York.
  8. ^ York, Susan (4 December 2005). "Geese Flying". The New York Times.
  9. ^ King, Sarah (1999). "Universe of Susan York". THE Magazine.
  10. ^ York, Susan (2008). "Artist Bio". Lannan Foundation.
  11. ^ a b Hammond, Harmony (2 March 2011). "Susan York at James Kelly Contemporary". Art in America.
  12. ^ "Alumni: Susan York". sundaymorning.ekwc. 1997.
  13. ^ "3 Columns:Graphite Sculpture by Susan York". Lannan Foundation. 2008.
  14. ^ "The Unfolding Center". SFAI. 10 January 2014.
  15. ^ Abatemarco, Michael (20 February 2016). "Art in Review, Susan York:Carbon". Santa Fe New Mexican.
  16. ^ Harper, Amber (13 October 2017). "Lab Corridor Oct 13, 2017 - Mar 24, 2019; Susan York: Foundation". The Drawing Center.
  17. ^ Yau, John (21 January 2018). "An Artist's Devotion to Exactness". Hyperallergic.
  18. ^ "Gravitas" (PDF). Dorsky Gallery. 2008.
  19. ^ "Alcoves 12.5". New Mexico Museum of Art. 2012.
  20. ^ "Constructed Grey (in german)" (PDF). Mies van der Rohe Haus. 2014.
  21. ^ "2007 Painters & Sculptors Program". Joan Mitchell Foundation. 2007.
  22. ^ "2019 Individual Grant Recipients". Gottlieb Foundation. 2019.

External links[edit]