Peter Freeman, Inc., is pleased to announce a retrospective of Alex Hay’s work, with new dates of 6 March – 11 June 2021. Originally planned for April 2020, what was the occasion of the artist’s 90th birthday last year, this is the artist's sixth exhibition with the gallery, and his first retrospective anywhere since the New York Cultural Center’s 1971 Alex Hay: Recorded and Performed Activities since 1962. The exhibition includes paintings, sculpture, and drawings from 1963 to 2020, with loans from the Archives of American Art, The Lowe Art Museum, Weatherspoon Art Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Alex Hay moved to New York from Florida in 1959, and by 1962 was a part of the nascent Judson Dance Theatre, gaining early recognition for his performances, while simultaneously working as a visual artist. Following his first group exhibition—at Leo Castelli in 1964—he had solo exhibitions at Kornblee Gallery in 1967, 1968, and 1969—all of which were met with critical attention, and from which the Whitney Museum of American Art as well as influential collectors including Robert and Ethel Scull, and John and Kimiko Powers acquired works.
Hay showed two- and three-dimensional, larger-than-life painted representations of everyday objects and things he liked, including breakfast, a light bulb, paper bags, a cash register receipt, notebook pages, and restaurant guest checks.
By the early seventies he began making annual drives cross country, spending increasingly more time outside of New York, and often hosted on the West Coast by Stanley and Elyse Grinstein, important figures on the Los Angeles art scene. Finally Hay settled in Bisbee, Arizona, pulling away from the gallery system, as his interest in esoteric subjects developed along with his desire to limit distractions and outside influences on his work which always continued.
Peter Freeman's 2002 exhibition of Hay's 60s work coincided with the artist's decision, as he has stated, to: “finish my art career in terms of gallery work and what you could show in a gallery and the whole art world.” In 2004, Hay’s new paintings were included in the Whitney Biennial, enlarged, highly detailed renderings of scraps of wood and linoleum he saved while renovating a former miner’s hotel in Bisbee, reflecting his continued engagement with daily life and a natural association with time.
Hay’s latest paintings, now on view for the first time, are monumentally-scaled details of the coats of four of his cats, Tito, Lily, Bella, and Marigold. Circumstance, which has always been an impetus for Hay’s work, is at their core. By responding to and recording his whereabouts or activities, making use of a tool or material at hand, Hay’s work reflects his state of perpetual observation and acute presence. What distinguishes the new series is their multi-panel format: each cat is represented by two to four canvases that can be mixed and matched, shown in any order or orientation.
Also on view is a complete range of works on paper including performance and exhibition-related ephemera, itself a retrospective within the retrospective, which provide unique insight into Hay’s working process and overall conceptual concerns.
Alex Hay was born in 1930 in Valrico, Florida. Recent group exhibitions include the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2004), The Painted World at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2005), Danser sa vie at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011), and Lifelike at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2012, then travelled through 2014). His work is in numerous museum collections, including: Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Art Institute of Chicago; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and Museu Serralves, Porto.
An opening reception will be held on Saturday 6 March from 10 am to 6 pm. For reproduction requests and general inquiries, please contact the gallery at 212 966 5154 or firstname.lastname@example.org.