Stephen Posen

Stephen Posen “Key to the Doorway” Oil on Canvas 50 x 40 inches 2023

One might say that Posen is engaged in a life long sparring with the sovereign power of drawing. Master of the game, Posen uses his technical bravado to set up paradoxical incidents whereby line and paint simultaneously invoke and deny the illusion of space.  

A reverent admirer of great artists such as Cezanne, Matisse, Guston and Johns,  and a recipient of his own critical acclaim, Posen has nonetheless approached his life’s work with a radical independence — continuously looking inward to invent metaphors and to conjure new languages in service of an artistic and philosophic quest.  Studying Posen’s brave and original path gives one insight into the scientific elasticity of the creative mind. 

Within the work, visual information is layered upon visual information, providing the artist an opportunity to toggle between tangible space, visceral paint and the graphic truth of a line.   

Born in St.  Louis in 1939, Posen studied painting at Washington University, and then continued on to graduate studies at Yale University, where he was a part of a great confluence of talents including Brice Marden, Richard Serra and Chuck Close.  Posen spent two years in Italy on a Fulbright, where in addition to forging his artistic voice, he met his wife and lifelong partner, Susan. 

S. Posen 1972

Returning to the States, Stephen and Susan moved to New York City, becoming an integral part of the Soho art scene in the Seventies. In 1972, Posen’s photorealist paintings of cloth-covered boxes appeared at Documenta V with the blessing of Swiss curator Harald Szeemann, inaugurating a key figure of American realism.  Posen’s works were exhibited at OK Harris and Robert Miller and featured on the cover of Arts Magazine.  Dali and Warhol were a few of the many supporters of Posen’s early work.

Posen’s quest reached beyond the Realist movement however, and in the Eighties, he ventured into other stylistic approaches. Famously private about his work and process, Posen has cloistered himself in his studio and fortressed a rigorously adventurous space for creation.  Within his 50 year career Posen has built a prolific oeuvre of remarkable depth and agility. He has continuously dedicated himself to exploring  the line between the physicality of paint and pictorial illusion. Unrelenting in questioning the tension between our interior perceptions and exterior realities, his path has traced through trompe-l’oeil compositions, to photographic mixed media and even pop, with the use of iconographic cartoon characters like Krazy Kat. In recent years Posen has exhibited at the Drawing Center and delved deeply into photography as an additional tool in his visual and analytic palette.

Posen’s work is recognized in museum collections such as the MoMA and the Guggenheim.   “Ellipsis: Dual Vision”  a book of Stephen’s paired photographs with writings by Alexandra Posen, Scott Indrisek, Colin Cheney and Zac Posen has recently been published by Glitterati Incorporated (March 2015).