Rules & Repetition
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT
October 26, 2023–February 18, 2024
Gene Beery’s (b. 1937 Racine, WI; d. 2023 Sutter Creek, CA) highly influential yet vastly under-recognized practice spans over six decades. After moving to New York from his native Wisconsin in 1958, Beery began working as a security guard at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he was introduced to fellow artists and critics Dan Flavin, Robert Ryman, Lucy Lippard, and Sol LeWitt, the latter of whom would become the artist’s lifelong friend and staunchest supporter. Observing the importance of wall text within institutional settings, Beery began making text-based paintings with an urgent energy, working on scraps of wood and masonite. His disarmingly provocative work occupies a distinctive position of anti-painting painting: simultaneously critical of the art object's stature, while embracing the most salient form of artistic expression. Through his deceptively simple use of language, Beery’s work transmits incisive views on the machinations and aspirations of making art, with a caustic blend of humor and optimism.
In 1962, Beery was included in Recent Painting USA: The Figure, organized by Alfred H. Barr Jr. at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. One year later, he was given a solo exhibition at the legendary Alexander Iolas Gallery upon the recommendation of Max Ernst, who was an instant fan after seeing his work at MoMA. A retrospective exhibition was organized at Fri Art Kunsthalle, Fribourg, Switzerland in 2019, marking the artist's first institutional solo presentation to date. Recent solo exhibitions include Parker Gallery, Los Angeles (2022), Bodega, New York (2020), Cushion Works, San Francisco (2019), Shoot The Lobster, Los Angeles (2017), and Jan Kaps, Cologne (2016).