July 20, 2012
Until this exhibition I had never seen a work by Sven Lukin, an artist who began showing in New York in the early 1960s and was widely recognized at the time for his innovative painting-sculpture hybrids. He was one of five painters in The Shaped Canvas, the 1964 Guggenheim Museum exhibition curated by Lawrence Alloway, that helped define a key feature of 1960s abstraction. Written about by influential critics (Judd, Lippard), and shown in prominent galleries (Martha Jackson, Pace), Lukin’s work fused the Juddian “specific object” with hard-edge painting, geometric illusionism, the exuberant palette of Pop, and a feeling for sensual curving forms that exuded a playful eroticism. If this list of features suggests stylistic eclecticism, nothing could be further from the truth: Lukin’s 1960s work possesses great internal coherence.