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Frank Bowling | Bending the Grid an ongoing series

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 2003
Published by: Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, New Jersey, USA
Year published: 2003
Number of pages: 40
ISBN: 09655330-6-9

image of Frank Bowling | Bending the Grid an ongoing series

Substantial catalogue for Frank Bowling, Bending the Grid an ongoing series, an exhibition held at Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, New Jersey, USA, 18 September - 10 December 2003]

This was one of a number of important exhibitions by Frank Bowling, and was subtitled Black Identity and Resistance in the Art of Frank Bowling, curated by Dorothy Désir, Spencer Richards, Associate Curator.

From the exhibition’s press release, “NEWARK, NJ-Aljira inaugurates Bending the Grid, a series of exhibitions which examine the production of outstanding artists chosen from among accomplished, yet under-recognized national and international practitioners. While often grounded in rational modernist principles, each selected artist finds personal ways to adapt, or circumvent traditional, or rigid aspects of formalism. The series opens with the exhibition Bending the Grid: Black Identity and Resistance in the Art of Frank Bowling, September 18-December 10, 2003.”

This catalogue included examples of Bowling’s earlier work, as well as examples of his subsequent map paintings, and reproductions of more recent work. The Chronology is particularly important, as it includes numerous details that shed light on the dramatic development of Bowling’s career, over a number of decades.

Contents as follows:

Two title pages



Foreword, Victor L. Davson, Executive Director, Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art

Photograph of Frank Bowling, by Spencer Richards

Dorothy Désir, Frank Bowling: Baku Gazin’, catalogue essay

Ten pages of colour plates, of work made between 1961 and 2002

Works in the Exhibition

Chronology (9 pages)

Selected Bibliography

Portrait of Agatha Franklin Bowling

Images from Dan & Them and Middle Passage, 1969-70

JPMorgan Chase’s Commitment to the Arts & Culture

Page of two reproductions of Frank Bowling paintings in the JP Morgan Chase Art Collection

Page of Aljira Board of Trustees 2003-4, Aljira Staff, and Frank Bowling Steering Committee

Aljira mission statement

In addition to the 10 pages of colour plates, other colour plates are interspersed throughout, as well as enlarged quotes from the catalogue text, such as “Bowling diligently studied the masters of African and Oceanic Art, seeking a balance that he once described as hybrid.”

Victor Davson’s foreword included the telling comment on the Tate’s apparent reluctance to acknowledge Bowling. “In the past, neglect of his work has been a source of deep frustration: It took me a hell of a long time to get the Tate Gallery to buy my work.” In fact, of the group of successful artists that came out of the Royal College of Art in 1962, his work was the last to be bought.”

It was noted in the Chronology of the catalogue that in 1987, “London’s Tate acquires Spreadout Ron Kitaj (1984-86), its first purchase of a painting by a black British artist” (p.26)


Related people

»  (Sir) Frank Bowling OBE, RA

Born, 1935 - 1937 (probably 1936) in British Guiana (now Guyana) Caribbean/S. America

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, New Jersey.

Newark, New Jersey, USA, United States of America