Nicholas Krushenick (1929–1999) combined witty Pop sensibilities with a myriad of artistic inspirations to create dynamic, playful paintings. Juxtaposing broad black lines with bold, flat Liquitex colors, Krushenick devised hard-edged abstractions that fill his canvases from corner to corner. Born in the Bronx, Krushenick was a prominent figure on the New York art scene throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Using the surrounding influences of this vibrant scene as a catalyst, he developed a distinct style that straddled the lines between Op, Pop, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and Color Field painting. For Krushenick, this unclassifiable status was ideal, as he explained: “They don’t really know where to place me. Like I’m out in Left field all by myself. And that’s just where I want to stay.”
From 1948 through 1951, Krushenick studied painting at the Art Students League and the Hans Hoffman School of Fine Arts. In the mid-1950s, in addition to painting, Krushenick designed window displays and worked as the Assistant Master Framer at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. By the late 1950s, he established a framing shop with his brother on Tenth Street, which soon evolved into the successful Brata Gallery.
In 1962, Krushenick left the gallery business to his brother, and soon received a number of solo exhibitions in New York, Zurich, Paris, Vienna, and Stuttgart, as well as gallery representation from New York’s Pace Gallery. Using experiments in cut paper collages as a springboard, Krushenick created simple, abstract shapes in acrylic on canvas. With these bold, energetic forms, he created an aesthetic all his own, earning himself the title “father of Pop abstraction.” Krushenick’s Pop abstraction paired nonfigurative forms and shapes with the graphic clarity associated with Pop art and comic strip imagery, and mixed with Surrealistic humor.
Although he largely withdrew from the New York gallery exhibition scene by the late-1970s, Krushenick continued to paint, print, and draw prolifically until his death in 1999, creating a rich yet underappreciated body of work that has influenced a generation of younger painters. The first museum survey of Krushenick’s work in several decades, this exhibition features work from the 1960s to the 1990s.