Pat Lipsky is an American painter associated with Lyrical Abstraction, Color Field Painting, and Geometric Abstraction. She grew up in New York City, and graduated with a B.F.A. from Cornell University in 1963. She received an M.F.A. in Painting at Manhattan’s Hunter College, where she studied with the painter and sculptor Tony Smith. She had her first one-woman show in New York City at the André Emmerich Gallery. Her work then was strongly in the mode of Lyrical Abstraction. The 1969 canvas Spiked Red (collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth) demonstrates her ’60s approach: close hues, bright color waves, and bursts. She was invited to participate in the influential 1970–1971 Lyrical Abstraction exhibition, which traveled the country and culminated at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
By the later 1970s and 1980s, Ms. Lipsky expanded her palette to include bolder colors and geometric forms. In the 1980s and 1990s, she continued to refine her broader color concerns, achieving a brooding, more sharply defined palette. A selection of works from this period, “The Black Paintings,” was exhibited in Miami in 1994 and New York City in 1997. Critic Karen Wilkin found the “deliberately limited” dark work of this period to be “dramatic” and “powerful.” In the 2000s, Ms. Lipsky began another redefinition of palette, reincorporating color within a bold central image. She began to focus on single images presented in series. Her more recent exhibitions have contained repeating colors, in a striped and repeated form. The painter and critic Stephen Westfall, in Art in America, called these paintings “her most successful,” finding her “classicism” to be “ultimately idiosyncratic in the best sense.”
Ms. Lipksy’s paintings are represented in twenty-five public collections, including the Whitney Museum, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), the Walker Art Center, the Brooklyn Museum, and Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum. Her work is represented by DC Moore Gallery in New York City.
While Ms. Lipsky is sometimes identified with the Post-Painterly Abstraction school centered around the critic Clement Greenberg, a long-time friend of the painter, others have disputed this view. In a 2007 interview, she listed a broad range of influences from outside the field of visual arts: “I’m interested in what ‘difference’ means. My reading of Proust and Eliot, my viewing of Bellini and Giorgione and Titian and Albers and Cornell and Pollock, my listening to Bach and Thelonious Monk, my liking Éric Rohmer and Monty Python might seem totally unrelated, but they teach the same lesson: differences matter. When Monk plays a single note instead of another, a piece is either saved or ruined. When Albers puts a white next to a yellow, the yellow is changed and the white is changed, too. If Proust chooses to follow one character instead of another, to write fifty pages instead of four, the reader’s experience is altered in the most intimate and immediate way. We look at works of art as single large units, but they’re actually composed of hundreds, of thousands of individual and tiny units, each one a decision. It’s those units that I’ve been experimenting with throughout my career.”