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 Neil Jenney  (1945 - )

About: Neil Jenney


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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: abstract object-views, geometrics

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BIOGRAPHY for Neil Jenney
New York

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abstract object-views, geometrics

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is excerpts from "The New York Times," March 30, 2001:

'Neil Jenney: The Bad Years': And When He Was Bad, He Certainly Was Busy

Neil Jenney: The Bad Years, 1969-70," at the Gagosian Gallery uptown, is an outstanding exhibition whose title invites a snappy retort: Both of them? Still, in those two years Mr. Jenney helped put representational painting on a new course and established precedents for the art of the 1970's, 80's and 90's in ways that have yet to be fully recognized.

This show may change that. It brings together more of his "bad" paintings than ever before, including several that have never been exhibited. It is his first New York gallery show in a dozen years.

Its title almost reads as a deflationary dig at art-show pretension, a joke made on purpose. After all, the paintings are jokes that work really well, which means that they have their own kind of depth.

Who is or was Neil Jenney? A precocious, largely self-taught abstract painter, he arrived in New York from Boston in December 1966 and rapidly developed into one of the art world's most independent and reclusive stars, known for playing hardball during his off hours (in a city league) and for refusing gallery

In the late 1960's and 70's Mr. Jenney became a kind of artistic pace car, a little ahead of the pack but also outside the action in a lane of his own. By 1967, when he was just 22, he was making soft Process Art sculptures and appearing in some of the first exhibitions of the related tendencies---Process, Conceptual and Body Art---that came to be called Post-Minimalism. These included "Earth Art" at Cornell University, "When Attitude Becomes Form" at the Kunst- haus in Zurich and "Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials" at the Whitney Museum of American Art, all in 1969.

Yet by then Mr. Jenney had moved on, and he revealed where in his first appearance in a Whitney Biennial, also in 1969: to vaguely representational paintings notable for their haphazard execution and deadpan plays on words and images. Buster Keaton could not have been more droll.

(Working sic) at a time when most young artists were avoiding either
representation or painting, Mr. Jenney embraced both and put them
together in a new way. It was immediately identifiable as post-Pop; today it also looks Post-Conceptual, and ahead of its time. In the thick of the Conceptualist moment, he pronounced painting not only viable but also capable of absorbing all the non- or anti-painting strategies around it.

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