Skip to Main Content

James Bishop

This catalogue presents numerous large paintings on canvas from the 1960s to the early 1980s, as well as small-scale paintings on paper, to which James Bishop turned exclusively in 1986 and which he continues to produce today. 

Throughout his career, James Bishop has engaged with European and American traditions of postwar abstraction while developing a subtle, poetic, and highly unique visual language of his own. Alternating between—and at times interweaving—painting and drawing, Bishop’s works explore the ambiguities and paradoxes of material opacity and transparency, flatness and spatiality, as well as linear tectonics and loosely composed forms. Privileging the nuanced and expressive qualities of color and scale, Bishop’s luminous works have been described by American poet and art critic John Ashbery as “half architecture, half air.” 

Published to coincide with James Bishop’s first solo presentation in New York since 1987, which was held at David Zwirner in New York in 2014, this volume includes works spanning the artist’s prolific career. In addition, the book includes details and installation views, providing further context for understanding the artist’s work.

In the early 1960s, Bishop developed the vocabulary of color and form that would characterize his paintings on canvas for over twenty years: a reduced but rich palette, the employment of subtle architectonic abstractions, and a consistently large, square format that reinforces the viewer’s sense of scale and space. By overlapping thin but radiant veils of monochrome color, Bishop creates discrete geometric frameworks that suggest doors, windows, cubes, or what the artist describes as an uncertain scaffolding. 

“Bishop’s creations eschew representation (without precluding human scale) in order to focus on juxtaposing colors and creating subtle gradations of hue… wonderful show.”

– Alfred Mac Adam, ARTnews

“Beautiful, sensitive, astringent exhibition”

– John Yau, Hyperallergic

“Bishop’s painting, these works suggest, is a continually improvised art of calibration and attunement, in which the slightest displacements appear surprisingly consequent."

– Molly Warnock, ARTFORUM

James Bishop offers “an opportunity to view the range of Bishop’s work and observe the development over time of an intricate exploration of form.”

– A. Corrigan, Art Observed