Karen Barth: Recent Paintings


Karen Barth


Exhibition Dates: October 6 - October 22, 2016

Opening Reception: Thursday, October 6, 6-9 PM

508 West 26th Street, #9F

New York, NY 10001

Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm


For me, a painting is complete when it suggests a kind of mystery that exists in a realm between sensation and thought.

— Karen Barth

The Karen Barth Archive is pleased to present Karen Barth, an exhibition of the late, abstract painter’s final body of work considered to be the culmination of her decades-long exploration of the nuances of color, nature, technology, and the materiality of paint. Karen Barth will be on view Thursday, October 6, 2016 through October 22, 2016, at 508-526 West 26th Street, 9E-9F. The opening reception is Thursday, October 6th between 6-9pm.

Curated by Kelly Worman, this exhibition assembles a final suite of 16 of Karen Barth’s large scale works. Though, materially speaking, these works are archival digital prints, they are also simultaneously paintings, arrived at in their final state through a technique that is unique in terms of contemporary art practice. Throughout her artistic career, Barth (d. 2015) explored multiple dialectics: micro and macro, process and product, abstraction and representation, and, most consistently, nature and technology.

Barth described her own practice as “inspired by the possibility of making a painting that is abstract and self-contained, while simultaneously suggesting a relationship to nature—a painting that is unfixed, evoking changing conditions of form, light, color and atmosphere.” This possibility is derived from one of two starting points: the direct experience of nature, or one mediated by a color photograph. Only the colors are mapped out; the form of the painting is dictated wholly by its materiality. Barth began by painting on small panels then, through a technical process that calls to mind the gesture of spreading one’s fingers on a touch screen to see an image in greater detail, expanded the painting, allowing the viewer to be both inside and outside the image, to experience intimacy on a grand scale.

Barth eradicated the classic painting gesture through her formal experimentation with the physical properties of materials; her vocabulary of pouring, dripping, puddling, and pulling evolved over many years through trial and experimentation. The paintings harness the energies of organic processes, evoking elements of landscape made fluid, suggesting water and its metaphorical associations to mutability, alternating between chaos and control, gesture and mechanics. Barth said: “my objective is to reinvigorate the language of abstraction and the experience of landscape made remote by photography. What I seek is a connection to the larger world via a painting that suggests a confluence between nature, paint and technology as process, and the sense of immediacy and aliveness that this fused experience provides for me”.

Ultimately, these are vital, deeply personal meditations on experience, and the experience of living in an increasingly technologically-dependent environment.


About Karen Barth

Karen’s work has been shown internationally, including: Edward Thorp Gallery, Ethan Cohen Fine Arts, The Tate Chelsea, with solo exhibitions in both San Francisco and New York, as well as at the Galerie Hauser in Germany.  Her work has been reviewed and published in the New York Times, Art News, and other publications. Her work is a part of many private and public collections. In the early 2000’s her work was represented Cheryl Pelavin Fine Art, New York, NY.


About Karen Barth Archive

The mission of the Karen Barth Archive is to facilitate further education and exposure of Karen’s work, as well as to preserve and protect original work and ephemera. The Archive promotes a wider accessibility and understanding of Karen’s practice via this exhibition and accompanying catalogue, as well as a forthcoming book for 2017. The Archive, located in Tribeca, was founded in 2015 and is maintained and directed by Kelly Worman.

For further information regarding Karen Barth’s work, please visit karenbarth.com or contact the archive at karenbarth.archive@gmail.com.

Accompanying this exhibition, is the release of a full catalogue of the works exhibited, including essays by writers Tom Huhn, chair of the Art History and BFA Visual & Critical Studies Departments at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and Michael Steger, artist, writer and teacher of color theory at Hunter College, NYC.