Pat Steir is a painter who lives and works in New York. She has had recent exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, The Neuberger Museum, The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati and Cheim & Read in New York. Steir’s work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art among many others. She is represented by Cheim & Read.
She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1982, as well as grants from the National
Endowment for the Arts in 1973 and 1976. In 1991, she was awarded an Honorary
Doctorate of Fine Art from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, and, in 2001, the Boston
University School for the Arts Distinguished Alumni Award.
Though with her early work Steir was loosely allied with Conceptual Art and Minimalism,
she is best-recognized for dripped, splashed and poured “waterfall” paintings which she first started in the late 1980s. Steir’s continuous search for the essence of painting guided her to John Cage, who she met in 1980, and Agnes Martin, who she visited in New Mexico every year for 30 years until Martin’s death in 2004. These two artists provided Steir with enviable mentorship. From Cage, Steir learned the importance of “non-doing,” the role of chance, and the separation of ego. Martin showed her the “magic” of work in which the artist “invest[ed] their spirit into an object.” Both lessons found direction in Steir’s poured paint paintings: paint, once applied, flows downwards, its serendipitous path routed by its own unpredictable journey. Steir, intentionally removing herself from the action allowing gravity, time and the environment to determine the work’s result. She positions nature and its elemental forces as active participants. In this vein, Steir is also profoundly influenced by Chinese painting traditions and techniques, especially the inky marks of the 8th and 9th-century Yi-pin “ink-splashing” painters, and Taoist philosophy’s aspiration for harmonious, unfettered connections between man, nature and the cosmos.