The Constructed Canvas: String Paintings by David Roth

at Moderne Gallery, Philadelphia: June 15 - September 15, 2001


(April 2001)

Philadelphia, PA (April 2001)…Hanging strings vibrating in brilliant colors and intriguing multi-dimensional patterns brighten the walls of the Moderne Gallery this spring and summer, reintroducing the most important work of one of the most interesting craftsman/ artists of the late 20th century.

A signal event in the art/craft world, The Constructed Canvas: String Paintings by David Roth will be on exhibit at the Moderne Gallery, 111 N. Third Street, Philadelphia, PA (215-923-8536 or www.modernegallery.com) from June 15 through September 15, 2001.

After a hiatus from the art world of more than 15 years, and several recent exhibitions of his 1960's-80's work in NYC, David Roth is drawing and painting again. An exhibition of early and new graphite works and drawings will be shown in New York City at the Liz O'Brien Gallery in April 2001.

Philadelphia's Moderne Gallery is the first to feature the re-emergence of Roth's most famous work -- his string paintings from 1970-1984. These pieces represent his most fully-realized vision, which earned him success as well as the attention and respect of the New York art world.

Robert Aibel, owner/director of the Moderne Gallery, has long been an admirer of Roth's work. The Gallery has carried Roth's string paintings in the past, but has never before presented a substantive showing of these paintings.

"I am eager to see Roth's work receive the recognition that it deserves," says Aibel. "His string paintings are vibrant and beautiful, and make an important contribution to the ongoing discussion of the line between art and craft. Further, they explore the interplay of two and three dimensional work in a totally unique and intellectually rich manner."

"Rather than painting on the canvas," Aibel notes, "Roth is actually building the canvas fiber by fiber, leading us into a new way of thinking about and experiencing the dimensionality of the surface. He is an important and innovative Modernist painter of the second half of the 20th Century, and we are pleased to present his re-emergence here at Moderne."

Roth begins by drawing a color program on graph paper, and then uses this program as a guide to translate the two-dimensional drawing into a three-dimensional work comprised of strings painted with liquitex (acrylic). The strings are tied in bunches and closely hung from a wooden bar, creating the sense of a canvas painting.

In Roth's string paintings, primary and secondary colors are used along with black, grey and white. The individually dyed strings hang from the supporting band of wood like a curtain of tones and hues, creating surface, space and color. The wall behind forms the ground for the vertical spacing of the colored strings.

In some "programs" the colors "metamorphose" through each other horizontally. In others, the strings are cut at different lengths, adding to the sense of movement and overall richness of the paintings.

Born in New York City in 1942, David Roth currently resides in Claverack, NY. He studied at the Institute of Design (The New Bauhaus) at the Illinois Institute of Technology with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. In 1963 he was a performer in Claus Oldenburg's Happening "Gayety." Later studies were with Ivan Chermayeff, Clay Felker, Milton Glaser and Henry Wolf at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

From the mid-1960's through the mid-1980's, Roth was extremely productive and influential. He was invited frequently for group shows and one-man shows in Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Boston, Buffalo and New York, including the prestigious Robert Elkon Gallery in New York City, which represented him.

Roth's works are in numerous museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Newark Museum of Art, the Albright Knox Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Teheran, Iran (a gift from Nelson Rockefeller) as well as corporate and private collections. Corporate commissions include paintings for Johnson & Johnson, Coopers & Lybrand, IBM, Phillip Morris and SmithKline Philadelphia. His original works have been available over the years at several galleries, from New York to Los Angeles, from Paris to Stockholm. Various publishers have issued over 60 editions of his prints.