Dan Christensen 1942 —1907


The New York critic Clement Greenberg described him in 1990 as "one of the painters on whom the course of American art depends." Greenberg viewed Christensen as an exemplar of "post-painterly abstraction"-a term he coined for the movement that followed Abstract Expressionism in modernist progress towards what Greenberg regarded as an ultimate "pure art" that would eschew subject matter, spatial illusion and an artist's expressive persona in favor of revealing the "truthfulness" of the canvas.

Dan Christensen captured the harmonious Turbulence of the 'universe' in his paintings. (Kent Wolgamott / Lincoln Journal Star  October 31, 2009).

Christensen is a highly regarded painter, likely the most noted, important Nebraska native artist of his era."That's the way I'd see it," said Lincoln painter Keith Jacobshagen, who was at the Kansas City Art Institute with Christensen in the early 1960s. "Of that era, he was the only one to come out of the state that gained a national reputation."

Sheldon Museum of Art curator Sharon Kennedy concurs with Jacobshagen's assessment. "I can't think of anyone else," she said. "He was important because he stuck with painting at a time when painting was "dead" in so many eyes.  He was innovative, a really dedicated painter."


DAN CHRISTENSEN  1942 - 2007



Dan Christensen was born in Cozad, Nebraska in 1942.  He received his BFA in 1964 from the Kansas City Art Institute and currently resides in New York City. His early work was of a minimalist geometric style which he later abandoned due to its constrictiveness. He now works as a romantic minimalist, using spray guns and squeegees to create luminous canvases with abstract patterns floating on.

In 1967 Dan began using spray guns to draw colorful stacks, loops and lines on his paintings, which were among the most original abstract paintings of the decade. Having a unique mastery of the language of abstract painting color, line, surface, and a confident and gifted touch Christensen has used his ability to produce a varied and high quality body of work.  These earned him instant notice and a solo exhibition at the Andre Emmerich Gallery, the first of dozens of such shows in his career.

By 1968, Christensen made a group of paintings that were colored rectangles and bars floating in a sprayed atmosphere of lyrical, multi-colored space. That year he also began his important series of loop spray paintings. Resembling colored pencil or ball point pen doodles on a note pad, made on a giant scale by a giant hand; these paintings are astonishingly primal and liberating. Painted mostly in thin sweeping lines of sprayed primary color on neutral canvas-colored grounds, these paintings are a remarkable achievement. He followed those paintings with another series of sprayed line paintings that were thick, thin, twisting, serpentine lines and arcs painted on richly colored fields. 

In 1969, he picked up a squeegee and created geometric "plaid" paintings, such as Lisa's Red, one of the prominent works featured in "Dan Christensen: Forty Years of Painting," an exhibition of more than 30 of his works from 1966 to 2006 on view at Sheldon Museum of Art through Jan. 31.

Christensen's lucid and articulate ability to paint has led his fertile imagination into several radically different series. He has a willingness to change and grow and he has often altered his painting methods and his style. In the early seventies he made paintings with squeegees that were solid blocks of perpendicular color of different surfaces.

Dan Christensen began exhibiting his paintings in New York City in 1966. He has had more than 60 solo exhibitions and his work has appeared in important group shows all over the world. Long associated with color field painting, Christensen's lyrical abstraction is distinctly personal, an expression made through use of line and color.

Pressed about the meaning of his work, Christensen coined or borrowed the term "the harmonious turbulence of the universe," turning the saying into a mantra, according to Douglas Drake, a veteran Kansas City art dealer writing in the retrospective catalog. That "harmonious turbulence" came out of an improvisational, exploratory approach to the work.

"You have to surprise yourself," Christensen told Drake. "If the surprise holds up, maybe you've got something."

Christensen has won numerous awards including the National Endowment Grant in 1968 and the Guggenheim Fellowship Theodora Award in 1969. His paintings are a part of major national and international museum collections such as the Chicago Art Institute and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Christensen's paintings are represented in important museums and private collections in the United States and abroad including: Addison Gallery of American Art; Boca Raton Museum of Art; Denver Art Museum; Frederick R Weisman Art Museum; Jack S Blanton Museum of Art; Kemper Museum of Contemporary ArtUniversity of Nebraska Art GalleriesNeuberger Museum of Art; ; Sheldon Museum of Art;  Smith College Museum of Art;  Solomon R Guggenheim MuseumNelson-Atkins Museum of Art; and  Whitney Museum of American Art;

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