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Patient Love Potion, 1966

Harvey Quaytman

American, 1937-2002
Oil on canvas
89-1/8 x 91-3/4 in. (226.4 x 233.0 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Museum Purchase with funds donated by Mr. Duane E. Wilder
© Harvey Quaytman

Not on view

A graduate of the Boston Museum School and a recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships, Harvey Quaytman paid scant attention to artistic movements, and his own work fell outside strict stylistic associations. In Patient Love Potion, the motif of a shaped field painted on canvas is
a harbinger of his critically acclaimed shaped paintings from the ’70s and ’80s, which some critics tied to Minimalism.

Quaytman combined a practice of staining with pictorial tailoring, literally sewing pieces of canvas together, to achieve a color shape that hovers between abstraction and geometry, stasis and dynamism. The eccentric U-shaped form carries calligraphic and even figurative connotations with its upward reach on the canvas and the soft exterior contours resulting from the staining technique. In contrast, the interior field appears strongly geometric due to the horizontal base that associates it with a triangle. To achieve this hard-edge line on the interior of an organic shape—considered radical at the time—Quaytman cut the canvas horizontally and separated it along the edge where the two colors meet to insure that the liquid pigment would not stain above the targeted line. Afterwards, he sewed the canvas together and glued a fabric patch to the back for stability. Over time, the adhesives in the patch darkened, leaving the discolored area of canvas seen today. Quaytman was nicknamed the “Bowery sage” on account of his knowledge of materials and abiding devotion to craft, so the inventiveness of his technique renders this painting all the more relevant.

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