622 Warren Street
Hudson, NY. 12534

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Edward Avedisian



Published: August 23, 2007, NY Times

Edward Avedisian, who helped establish the hotly colored but emotionally cool abstract painting that succeeded Abstract Expressionism in the early 1960s, died on Friday in Philmont, N.Y.He was 71 and lived in Hudson, N.Y.  His death, at a nursing home, followed a period of declining health, said his son, Joseph Avedisian.

Mr. Avedisian was best known for his work in the 1960s: brilliantly colored, boldly composed canvases that combined Minimalism’s rigor, Pop’s exuberance and the saturated tones of Color Field painting.

A frequent motif was a cluster of bright seedlike orbs corralled at the center of a vibrant monochrome field by larger rings of color, creating an image that could resemble a buoyant cross-section of some unknown fruit.

Mr. Avedisian was born in Lowell, Mass., in 1936 and studied art at the BostonMuseumSchool. By the late 1950s he was living in New York, part of a generation of promising young painters that included Frank Stella, Larry Poons and Darby Bannard.

From 1958 to 1963 Mr. Avedisian had six solo shows in New York galleries, including two at the Robert Elkon Gallery, where he continued to show almost every year until 1975. By the early 1960s Mr. Avedisian was a rising star. During that decade, his work appeared on the cover of Artforum, in “The Responsive Eye” exhibition of Op Art at the Museum of Modern Art and in four annuals at the Whitney Museum of American Art. His paintings were widely sought by collectors and acquired by major museums in New York and elsewhere.

In the mid-1970s Mr. Avedisian moved to Hudson and became less visible. His paintings soon began shifting toward representation; he took to calling his abstract paintings “a period style.” But he continued to be well served by his feeling for color, scale and surface. His landscapes described his surroundings in blunt, flat shapes and singing hues reminiscent of those of Marsden Hartley and Paula Modersohn-Becker, but also had an undeniably contemporary verve. In the 1980s he also made bright abstract sculptures from painted Styrofoam.

In 1996 Mr. Avedisian showed his paintings from the 1960s at the Mitchell Algus Gallery, then in SoHo. His last show, dominated by recent landscapes, was in 2003 at Mr. Algus’s gallery, now in Chelsea.

Mr. Avedisian’s marriage ended in divorce. His partner, Judson Baldwin, died last year. In addition to his son, Joseph, of Brooklyn, he is survived by a grandson.




Avedisian   by Mitchell Algus        
In the early 1970s, after a successful decade as one of the brightest young artists
pioneering color field painting, minimalism and pop-abstraction, Edward Avedisian bid
adieu to the art world and New York City and moved to sub-bucolic upstate New York.
Ensconced in the less-than-genteel shabbiness of small town decay, Avedisian began to
paint his new, imperfectly rural scene. Here men work on their pickups until they
accumulate sufficient bad repair that they run no more. They sell lumpy pumpkins from
the backs of permanently parked flat-bed trucks or spend their days propped against the
banisters of second storey back porches and their nights drawing drinks against the cold
— or the heat — in edge-of-town bars.

Avedisian sets this scene with rough glory against the same still-glorious backdrop that
Frederick Church so preciously painted into the American consciousness. But Avedisian's
landscape is nothing if no longer precious. This is today's exurbia: picked over, diversely
occupied, and still beautiful. At an intriguing remove, Edward Avedisian's Hudson Valley
parallels Marsden Hartley's Maine coast. But where Hartley's landscape was coarse and
heroic, Avedisian's is a bold and laconic reverie. His is a very secular pantheism.

If Avedisian's new paintings at first present themselves as a break with his past
achievement, they soon reveal themselves to be part and parcel of a singular aesthetic.
Clear, complex color, blunt, playful illusion and assertive form still dominate. When
asked why he changed styles so radically, Avedisian replies with typical pointedness:
"Modernism is a period style."

As an adjunct to his paintings Avedisian has made abstract sculpture over the past
twenty-five years. The only time these have been seen in New York was at The Grey Art
Gallery in 1979 in an exhibition with the painter Richard Hennessy. Also included in the
current show are a couple of Avedisian's earlier abstract paintings.

Edward Avedisian was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. He showed in New York at Ivan
Karp's and Dick Bellamy's Hansa Gallery and at the Robert Elkon Gallery. In LA he
showed with Nicholas Wilder. Avedisian's work has been included in several Whitney
Annuals, in the Museum of Modern Art's Responsive Eye exhibition and many other
museum shows. The artist's work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Los
Angeles County Museum of Art, Whitney and the Guggenheim Museums.




Wednesday, February 25, 2009



Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Edward Avedisian

I met Edward Avedisian by chance at Max’s Kansas City when I sat down next to him at the bar. Otis Redding filled the air. “You know, “ Edward turned to me and said, “Ultimately what pop-music is all about is hiring someone to cry in public for you.” He watched for my response, eyes alert beneath his remarkably high forehead. I would come to know that ‘ultimately’. It was a regular conversational preface, because, as Edward later explained, it was his desire “to describe everything without reference to any convention.”

I ran into him often. He would sit, scruffy, restless, yet somehow detached, watching the crowd of artists, rock and rollers, drag queens, speed fueled denizens of Warhol’s factory ebb and flow, eddying through the smoky darkness around the famous, the rich and those who had drugs to sell. “Something for the head?” a small extremely handsome Apache, so sad and far from home, yet so hip would whisper as he passed by. Edward watched silently, then growled: “ Ultimately, all talk is crime.”

As it turned out, Edward was a painter of great distinction. Recently he'd been very famous, but now not so much so. He occasionally took teaching jobs at provincial universities where he holed up in a motel, ate acid, and generally tried to turn the minds of his students inside out. “It’s a big country, and the only thing keeping it together is television,” said Edward about his travels. Nonetheless, he lived well, had a small house in Chelsea and divided his non-teaching time exercising his lucidity on everything he encountered in bars, drugs and on his painting. “There are only two paths: decadence and spirituality. I have chosen decadence.” He had a wide circle of friends, but I got the impression that his unsparing, random insights made him familiar in many circles, but not a part of them.

Painting however remained his focus.. His pictures continued to explode in uncomfortable contrasts of wild pinks, excessive yellows, soft greens colors, wan blues, applied in blobs and swatches of varying densities and textures. They were simultaneously sophisticated and extravagant almost to the point of tastelessness. When the Metropolitan bought one, he was pleased. “Well, there I am up there with Velasquez and Picasso,” he shrugged. He thought that it was also somehow ridiculous, evidence that the prevailing standards had gone into serious decline.

Late one afternoon, when we’d met because he wanted me to help him sell a painting without his gallery knowing about it, we were walking through Central Park near the museum. “The great impetus in American art is ultimately to recreate the world at the time the artist’s mother was still a virgin. That’s why there’s always so much period recreation in movies and abstraction in art.” A lady swathed in mink walking an emaciated Chihuahua cut past us. “That dog belongs on a bun,” Edward snarled, and the woman, looked at him anxiously as she hurried away.

Usually however, I met Edward late at night at Max’s. Most of our talks took place as we walked, he to home and I to the subway nearby. One cold night, as we left the bar, a troupe of young men, with shiny hair ratted and teased, dressed in bright satin skin-tight pants, velvet jackets, strutted in teetering on alligator boots with two inch platform soles. Edward stopped and watched. “The point is, you could never run away from a mugger in those things. Don’t you think that ultimately they’re trying to magnetize some kind of violence they’ll have to submit to?”

Another night when it was hot and muggy night, you could almost feel the breathing of thousands of people moving torpidly on the streets or stirring in sweaty sleep. Edward talked about a movie he wanted to make called “The Ultimate Bar”. The characters in the film would be the ‘stars’ of a number of different kinds of bars: an Irish workers' bar, a pick up bar, a gay bar, a leather bar, an artists’ bar, a wall street hangout, and so forth. These people would meet periodically at one of their respective haunts, but on one particular evening, one would say he'd finally found the ultimate bar. Then they would all go in a cab uptown to a tough Puerto Rican neighborhood. They’d enter a tenement and make their way up a creaking, urine-smelling staircase to the fifth floor. There, they’d enter a dim slum apartment, rooms painted in streaky, faded Caribbean blues and flamingo pinks, cracked linoleum floors, and all filled with small formica-topped tables. Around all the tables sat parties of middle class people, “really nice, decent people,” Edward explained, “ but they’d all be stoned like they’d each drunk a whole bottle of Romilar cough syrup.” Waiters would circulate attentively, bringing small bowls to each table, and as they withdrew, a sudden glow of light would warm the rapt faces of those sitting around it. Mystified, the new arrivals would move in closer to see what was going on. In each bowl, the people would be burning money. Edward sped through this scenario as we walked; suddenly he stopped: “ This city is the greatest teacher. I’m so, so thankful.”

Late one night, as we neared my subway stop, Edward said: “You know, soon you’re going to have to make up your mind.” I wasn’t sure exactly what he meant, but at the same time, I did know. Now I think that Edward saw me far more clearly than I then saw myself, and his remark that night still touches me as a gesture of true kindness.

Just before I left New York, I gave a party for everyone I knew, regardless of their milieux; so there were artists, druggies, musicians, academics, the old lady who sang solitary hymns in the adjoining apartment late into the night, secretaries, school teachers, therapists and so on. Edward arrived early in a black motorcycle jacket. He was exhausted from some long acid trip and he collapsed on the couch. Ray Johnson, alert, gossipy, and always seeming to be so sweetly innocent, circulated, soliciting people right and left to sign up for the whimsical witty mailings of his New York CorrespondAnce School. (Who would imagine then that years later he would end his life, swimming solo and intent off into the cold night sea?) He spotted Edward napping. “Oooooh,” he whispered in my ear, “Edward, he’s very rare now.”

My life outside New York was involved almost completely in Buddhist study and practice, but I heard that Edward had painted huge murals for Green’s, a posh restaurant run by the San Francisco Zen Center. No, he hadn’t become involved with Zen in any other way, but he was said to be friends with Baker Roshi. That’s all I heard. And when I came back to New York, he had gone. No one seemed to know where.

Still, Edward always remained on the periphery of my thoughts, and recently when I finally succeeded in finding him on the internet, it turned out he had died two months earlier. It seems he had moved to a town on the Hudson upstate, had been living there with a partner for a long time, was active in some organization devoted to rescuing housecats, and had continued to paint. But the paintings I saw on his gallery's web site were figurative landscapes with a distinct kinship to the style of the 1930's. They were clearly about where he lived, all rendered with a sensuous affection, ease, curiosity and, somehow, gratitude.

I was very sorry I had located Edward too late for us to correspond or meet, but I was so deeply relieved that he had come to rest in such a place.






click on image for an enlargement, price, size and medium.

acrylic on paper and panel


ink on paper

additional acrylic on paper and panel

additional acrylic on paper

large paintings

Untitled 017, c.1965

Untitled 011, 1968

Kool-Aid Series, c. 1965

Kool Aid Series 030, c, 1969

Untitled 015, c. 1965

Untitled 016, c. 1965

Untitled 026, c. 1972

Untitled (Green), c. 1970

Untitled 119, c. 1965

Untitled 013, c. 1969

Untitled 030, c. 1972

Untitled 009, c. 1962

Untitled 014, 1963

Blue and White Beach Ball, 1965

Untitled 032, c.1965

Orange Beach Ball, c. 1965

Untitled 034, c. 1965

Untitled 032, c. 1965

Untitled 033, c. 1970

additional large paintings

watercolor on paper

additional watercolor on paper

representational works on paper

Two Men Near the River

Untitled 5091, c. 2000

Untitled 5096, c. 1985

Untitled 5097, c.1985

Untitled 5103, c. 1980

Untitled 5106, c. 1995

Untitled 5107, c. 1985

Untitled 5110, c.1985

Untitled 5111, c. 1982

Untitled 5113, c. 1995

Untitled 5119, c. 1982

Untitled 5120, c. 1982

Untitled 5124, c. 2000

Untitled 5125, c. 2000

Untitled 5129, c. 2002

Untitled 5130, c. 2002

Untitled 5131, c. 2005

Untitled 5133, c. 2000

Untitled 5134, c. 2000

Untitled 5136, c.2000

Untitled 5138, c. 2000

Untitled 5139, c. 2002

Untitled 5140, c. 2002

Untitled 5141, c. 2002

Untitled 5142, c. 2002

Untitled 5144, c. 2002

Untitled 5145, c. 2000

Untitled 5147, c. 2000

Untitled 5148, c. 2000

Untitled 5149, c. 2005

Untitled 5150, c. 2000

Untitled 5151, c. 2000

Untitled 5152, c. 2000

Untitled 5153, c. 2005

Untitled 5154, c. 2005

Untitled 5155, c. 2005

Untitled 5156, c. 1985

Untitled 5157, c. 2005

Untitled 5158, c. 2005

Untitled 5159, 2006

Untitled 5160, c. 2005

Untitled 5162, c. 2005

Untitled 5165, c. 2005

Untitled 5172

Untitled 5173, 2002

Untitled 5174

Untitled 5175

Untitled 5176

Untitled #6, 1990

Untitled #8, 1990

Untitled #42, 1980

Untitled #20, 2000

additional works on paper

graphite on paper

representational paintings on canvas

additional representational paintings on canvas

personal photos


Edward Avedisian

In the 1960’s, Edward Avedisian was one of the youngest of those luminaries producing a
grand new abstract painting. Shown first at Ivan Karp and Dick Bellamy’s Hansa Gallery
and then at Robert Elkon, Avedisian’s insouciant mix of pop playfulness, color field cool
and high formalist style put his art in a unique, and at the time generously rewarded,
position. Paintings made it onto the cover of Artforum, were purchased by all the major
museums, were among the few abstract works shown as representative of America’s
post-war achievement at Expo 67 in Montreal and comprised a cornerstone in histories of
the period written by Barbara Rose, among others.

Yet, Avedisian left New York in the mid-1970’s, moving upstate along the Hudson River,
severing his exhibition ties.  Had Avedisian merely left New York City to establish his
studio in a quieter place once his position was secure, had he continued to develop the
abstraction for which he became known, then this would be just another permutation of
the life lived by many successful artists of his generation. But, as these new paintings
indicate, Avedisian’s break was far more deeply expressed.

Over the past twenty years Avedisian has developed a new style: figurative, ostensibly
naive, contentious. The world Avedisian paints is that of his upstate environs and he does
so with a disarming directness. At the core of his new paintings lay a furtive sense of
narrative: tow pick-ups are parked beside a farmhouse, a couple repose behind roadside
billboards, men work on their trucks. Avedisian, always contemporary, has evolved into a
different kind of  American painter. After becoming a cosmopolitan maestro in the
sophisticated symphony of sixties abstract painting, Avedisian has become provincial in
the most explicit sense. It will be an interesting reconciliation between Avedisian’s early
achievement and his mature work. This mature work is, in many ways, a challenge.




Born 1936 Lowell, MA      Died 2007 Hudson, NY

Boston Museum School
University of Kansas, Artist-in-Residence, 1969
School of Visual Arts, NY, Artist-in-Residence, 1970
University of California, Irvine, Artist-in-Residence, 1972
University of California, Los Angeles, Artist-in-Residence, 1973

Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, 1967
National Council of the Arts Award, 1968


2010 Edward Avedisian Retrospective  Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, NY
2003 Mitchel Algus, NYC
2002 Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, NY
1999 Mitchel Algus, NYC
1996 Mitchel Algus, NYC
1995 Carrie Haddad Gallery
1984 Jason McCoy, Inc., NY
1979 Fishbach Gallery, NYC
1978 The Carriege House, NYC
Nina Freudenheim Gallery, Buffalo, NY
1977 Gray Art Gallery, NYC
1975 The Carriage House, Buffalo, NY
Robert Elkon Gallery, Houston, TX
1974 Janie C. Lee Gallery, Houston, TX
Robert Elkon Gallery, NYC
1973 Robert Elkon Gallery, NYC
1972 Robert Elkon Gallery, NYC
1971 Jack Glenn Galery, Corona del Mar, CA
Walter Moos Gallery, Toronto
Robert Elkon Gallery, NYC
1970 Bucknell University Art Gallery, Lewisburg, PE
Robert Elkon Gallery, NYC
1969 Nicholas Wilder Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1968 Nicholas Wilder Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Robert Elkon Gallery, NYC
1967 Kasmin Limited, London
Robert Elkon Gallery, NYC
1966 Kasmin Limited, London
Robert Elkon Gallery, NYC
Nicholas Wilder Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1965 Kasmin Limited, London
Nicholas Wilder Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Robert Elkon Gallery, NYC
1964 Galerie Ziegler, Zurich
Robert Elkon Gallery, NYC
1963 Robert Elkon Gallery, NYC
1962 Robert Elkon Gallery, NYC
1960 Tibor de Nagy, NYC
1959 Tibor de Nagy, NYC
1958 Hansa Gallery, NYC
Tibor de Nagy, NYC
1957 Hoylston Print Center Gallery, Cambidge, MA

2004 Haddad Lascano Gallery, Gt. Barrington, MA
Richard Sena Gallery, Hudson, NY "Resilience"
2003 Hudson Opera House, Hudson, NY "South Bay"

1994 Warren Street Gallery, Hudson, NY "Works on Paper"
1989 Vrej Baghoomian Gallery, NYC "Landscape"
1983 Storm King Art Center, NY
1981 Pittsfield Museum, Pittsfield, MA
Robert Elkon Gallery, NYC
1980 Grey Art Gallery, NY University, NYC
1977 Grey Art Gallery, NY University, NYC
1971 The Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY "Graphics from the Collection of Marine Midland Bank"
The Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY "Six Painters"
1970 Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN "Painting and Sculpture Today"
Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, IL "69th American Exhibition"
Darmstadt, Germany "International Drawing Exhibition"
1969 Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
"The George Waterman Collection"
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN "Painting and Sculpture Today ‘69"
Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC, "Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting"
1968 Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC "Painters Under 40"
1967 Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC "Annual Exhibition of Contemporary
American Painting"
Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA, "Paintings from Expo ‘67"
Expo ‘67, Montreal, "American Painting Now"
SF Museum of Fine Arts, SF, CA, R.Rowan Collection "Color Painting"
1966 The Jewish Museum, NYC "Harry Abrams Family Collection"
1965 Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC, "Young American 1965"
Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC, "Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting"
The Museumof Modern Art, NYC, "The Responsive Eye"
1964 Gallery of Modern Art, Washington D.C.
1963 Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC "Annual Exhibition of American Painting"
Dayton Art Institute, Dayton OH, "Dayton Art International"

1979 Greens, San Francisco, CA
Desert Cafe, Santa Fe, NM

Museum of Modern Art, NY
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Whitney Museum of American Art, NY
The Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, CN
The Larry Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT
Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, MI
Los Angeles County Museum, CA
Pasedena Museum, CA
Chrysler Art Museum, Provincetown, MA
Neuberger Museum, SUNY, Purchase, NY
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, MI
The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY



link to a memoir by Douglas J. Penick


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