WHEN BRITISH PAINTER Frank Bowling moved to New York in the mid-1960s, the new art scene broadened his perspective. He connected with Jack Whitten, Mel Edwards, Al Loving, and Daniel LaRue Johnson, met Jasper Johns, and began a decades-long dialogue with Clement Greenburg. It was also in New York that Bowling shifted away from figuration to focus on abstraction. The decision transformed his practice.

After joining Hauser & Wirth last October, Bowling’s first exhibition with the gallery opened in May. “Frank Bowling – London / New York” was on view simultaneously at the Hauser & Wirth’s London and New York locations. The grand gesture reflects his transatlantic practice.

 


FRANK BOWLING, “Polish Rebecca,” 1971 (acrylic paint and spray paint on canvas, 277 x 359 cm / 109 x 141 3/8 inches). | © Frank Bowling, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 

Born in Guyana, Bowling arrived in London in 1953 when he was 19. About a decade later, he graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1962. Within a few years, he was splitting his time between London and New York. He kept up the routine for most of his career, maintaining studios in both cities.

Presenting a broad survey of Bowling’s abstract painting, the exhibition included works made over the past half century, from 1967 to present. The New York show spanned each decade, from the 1960s forward and featured the artist’s Map Paintings and paintings produced using his inventive pouring technique. In London, paintings produced from the 1980s to present were on view. Paintings embellished with found objects, polyurethane foam, and collage on canvas were represented at both venues.

Always pushing the possibilities of paint, Bowling’s dynamic sense of color and geometry and insistence on experimentation was on full display in London and New York.

Bowling first visited New York in 1961 and returned to the city multiple times through the mid-1960s. In 1966, he left London and moved to New York, where he lived until 1975. After 15 years back in London, Bowling headed to New York again, setting up his studio in a loft in Dumbo, Brooklyn, an un-gentrified warehouse district at the time. From 1990 to 2018, he traveled between the two cities, spending spring and fall in New York and summer and winter in London.

“In some ways, having studios in both cities gave me the best of both worlds. In London, I was able to connect with my painterly roots in the English landscape tradition, taking on Constable and Turner, so to speak, and in New York I was engaging with Post-Painterly Abstraction, and the greats of American abstract painting,” Bowling told The Art Newspaper.

“But in many ways, I was doing my own thing—trying to do work I felt was entirely new, trying to push the boundaries of what painting was about. So, I’d usually just pick up whatever I was working on at the time and pack it up into a tote bag, still wet, and carry it across the Atlantic. And at the other end, we’d roll it out and get going again, so the works were often made in both places.” CT

 

“Frank Bowling – London / New York” was on view at Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street, May 5-July 30, 2021, and Hauser & Wirth London, May 21-July 31, 2021

 

READ MORE about Frank Bowling’s practice and travels between London and New York in a conversation among the artist, his wife Rachel Scott, and son Ben Bowling

 
New York


Installation view of “Frank Bowling – London / New York,” Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street (May 5-July 31, 2021). Shown, at center, “Polish Rebecca” (1971). | Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


FRANK BOWLING (born 1934), “Pondlife (After Millais),” 2007 (acrylic, acrylic gel, fabric and found objects on canvas with marouflage, 229.6 x 135.8 x 4.5 cm / 90 3/8 x 53 1/2 x 1 3/4 inches (framed). | © Frank Bowling, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


Installation view of “Frank Bowling – London / New York,” Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street (May 5-July 31, 2021). | Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


FRANK BOWLING (born 1934), “Piano to Guyana,” 2004 (acrylic, acrylic gel and found objects on canvas with marouflage, 223 x 213 cm / 87 3/4 x 83 7/8 inches). | © Frank Bowling, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


Installation view of “Frank Bowling – London / New York,” Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street (May 5-July 31, 2021). Shown, from left, “Rosebush” (1974) and “Rising” (1978). | Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


FRANK BOWLING (born 1934), “Enter the Dragon,” 1984 (acrylic, acrylic gel and polyurethane foam on canvas with marouflage, 230.4 x 277.8 x 10 cm / 90 3/4 x 109 3/8 x 3 7/8 inches). | © Frank Bowling, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


Installation view of “Frank Bowling – London / New York,” Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street (May 5-July 31, 2021). Shown, from left, “At the Window” (2020) and “Texas Louise” (1971). | Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 

TOP IMAGE: FRANK BOWLING, “Polish Rebecca,” 1971 (acrylic paint and spray paint on canvas, 277 x 359 cm / 109 x 141 3/8 inches). | © Frank Bowling, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 
London


Installation view of “Frank Bowling – London / New York,” Hauser & Wirth London (May 21-July 31, 2021). Shown, at left, “Fishes Wishes and Star Apple Blue” (1987). | Courtesy Hauser & Wirth

 


FRANK BOWLING (born 1934), “Wobbly V with Bunches,” 2020 (acrylic and acrylic gel on canvas with marouflage, 188.3 x 255 x 5.5 cm / 74 1/8 x 100 3/8 x 2 1/8 inches). | © Frank Bowling, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


Installation view of “Frank Bowling – London / New York,” Hauser & Wirth London (May 21-July 31, 2021). Shown, from left, “Wobbly V with Bunches” (2020) and “Jetty” (1983). | Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


Installation view of FRANK BOWLING, “Jamsahibwall,” 1990 (acrylic and acrylic gel on canvas with marouflage, seven panels, 188 x 355.5 x 3.2 cm / 74 x 140 x 1 1/4 inches). | Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


FRANK BOWLING (born 1934), “Swimmers,” 2020 (acrylic, acrylic gel and found objects on collaged canvas, 229.3 x 326.4 x 8 cm / 90 1/4 x 128 1/2 x 3 1/8 inches). | © Frank Bowling, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


Installation view of “Frank Bowling – London / New York,” Hauser & Wirth London (May 21-July 31, 2021). | Courtesy the artist Hauser & Wirth

 


FRANK BOWLING (born 1934), “Flogging the Dead Donkey,” 2020 (acrylic and acrylic gel on canvas with marouflage, 102.5 x 185.5 x 5 cm / 40 3/8 x 73 x 2 inches). | © Frank Bowling, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 

BOOKSHELF
A new volume, “Frank Bowling: London / New York” was published to accompany the exhibition. The publication is available now through the gallery and more widely in September. Forthcoming at the end of August, “Frank Bowling” is an updated and expanded edition of a monograph originally published in 2011. “Frank Bowling” was published on the occasion Bowling’s 2019 exhibition at Tate Britain. Okwui Enwezor curated the exhibition and edited the catalog, “Frank Bowling: Mappa Mundi.” For children, “Meet the Artist: Frank Bowling” was authored by Zoe Whitley and illustrated by Hélène Baum.

 

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