Ray Parker and Robert Barber: Paintings And Works On Paper 1959 – 1963

Del Deo & Barzune

15 West 26th Street, Suite 2R, New York

May 2 — June 30, 2017

Del Deo & Barzune is pleased to announce the opening of Ray Parker / Robert Barber: Paintings and Works on Paper 1959–1963. The lives of Ray Parker (1922–1990) and Robert Barber (b. 1922) crossed paths in the early 1950s at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, when Parker held a teaching position (Instructor of Painting and Design) and Barber was enrolled in the university’s Master of Fine Arts program. While completing his MFA, in 1952, Barber also served as Parker’s teaching assistant. The pairing of Ray Parker and Robert Barber focuses not only on the intersection of time and place in the lives of two painters of the same generation, but also on an overlapping of shared painterly concerns involving color, form, composition, and gesture.

Ray Parker (1922–1990) was born in Beresford, South Dakota, a town located in the southeastern-most corner of the state, not far from the borders of Minnesota and Iowa. He received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees from the University of Iowa in 1946 and 1948. From 1955 until his death, Parker was on the faculty of Hunter College’s highly regarded art department. In his expansive 2016 publication Modern Art In America 1908–68, art historian, scholar, and longtime Hunter College professor William C. Agee writes: Parker, along with other younger painters at that time, retained the scale, immediacy and power of Abstract Expressionism, which they held in high esteem. But they now sought to reinvigorate it, feeling it had become too predictable, rhetorical, or in some cases even academic. The ‘Simple’ paintings have much of the brushing and rough edges of Abstract Expressionism, but the forms are more clearly articulated, defined and focused, pointing the way to the lean geometries of 1960s art. The impetus for the new paintings had been Parker’s mastery of colour, the desire to ‘cut out everything but pigment on the ground and let colour tell the whole story.’

Robert Barber was born in Minneapolis in 1922. He earned an undergraduate degree from the Minneapolis School of Art (now the Minneapolis School of Art & Design) and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Minnesota. Before moving to Tucson, Arizona in 1956, he taught for three years at Illinois Wesleyan University. With funding from the university at his disposal for purposes of organizing a group exhibition, Barber ventured to New York to visit Ray Parker and to invite his participation. Parker contributed to the efforts of his former student in lending a work to the show. A World War II Navy veteran, Barber served as a surgical nurse aboard the transport ship U.S.S. De Grasse while stationed in Okinawa and Saipan. For more than thirty years, he was a devoted teacher of art in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) system. For decades Robert Barber has rigorously gone about his art practice far from any system of commercial galleries or broader network of art institutions. Apart from mainly regional exhibition exposure, Barber’s work had been all but unknown until 2015, when the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson mounted a fullscale retrospective exhibition (Anne-Marie Russell and Jocko Weyland, co-curators). In 2016, Barber’s work was introduced to an international audience by Kerry Schuss at the Independent art fair in New York. Well into his nineties, the artist continues to paint and draw on a daily basis.

Note: the works of Robert Barber in this exhibition appear courtesy Kerry Schuss, New York. The exhibition is available for viewing on line at deldeobarzune. com.

For further information and/or images, please contact gallery@deldeobarzune.com or call 646 344-1010. Gallery hours: Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 AM–6:00 PM; Monday and Saturday by appointment.

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