Past Exhibitions

Pat Steir


Artist Pat Steir
Orgaziner Long Museum West Bund

From October 23, 2021 to January 3, 2022, Long Museum (West Bund) is delighted to present the first major survey exhibition in China dedicated to acclaimed American artist Pat Steir. Curated in close collaboration with the artist, the exhibition will offer a comprehensive overview of Steir’s four-decade engagement with abstraction, calligraphic gesture, color theory, and the properties of her chosen medium of oil paint. Steir has chosen to showcase at the Long Museum (West Bund) some of her most ambitious and monumental canvases, including works from important recent museum projects, such as her Silent Secret Waterfalls series for the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, home to one of the greatest Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art collections.


The exhibition is Pat Steir’s love letter to China, particularly classical Chinese art and poetry that has inspired her artistic practices and aesthetics throughout her career. In 1988, Steir visited China and traveled to Guilin, Beijing, and Shanghai with Crown Point Press, a printmaking workshop based in San Francisco. In each city, she made woodcuts in collaboration with Chinese master printers. In response to Chinese ink paintings, Steir created her first Waterfall paintings in the late 1980s. Her engagement with Zen-Buddhism has likewise underpinned her practice, helping her in her desire to relinquish control of her work to the forces of nature, gravity, and chance. 


To create her paintings, Steir pours, splashes, and brushes thinned paint onto her monumental canvases, allowing gravity, time, and the fluidity of her medium to determine the final picture. American poet Anne Waldman has stated that Steir’s paintings offer “a full-on stereophonic experience of entering spaces of celestial climatic ‘pours’ and one feels the visceral impact of her entities in space.”


Alongside early iconic works, the artist has selected to bring to the Chinese audience paintings from every period of her prestigious career and particularly focuses on her development over the last decade as a contemporary painter very present in her times. The exhibition will include selected paintings from the Split series, including works from Steir’s breakout Kairos exhibition in New York and London in 2017 and her 2021 exhibition Considering Rothko, in which she examined in her own voice the color theory of the great American Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko.


The exhibition is also honored to present Blue River (2005), one of Pat Steir’s acclaimed masterpieces and the largest painting she has ever made. It represents for Steir the vastness of the universe where water fills the space, and the viewer travels between two distant borders. 

Her most recent work, the large-scale Rainbow Waterfall (2021), was conceived especially for this retrospective, offering a dazzling demonstration of the artist’s latest developments as well as a synthesis of her unique artistic practices. 


Pat Steir’s optimistic voice is present throughout the exhibition. Though the pandemic prevents her from traveling to her beloved China, Steir is represented in Shanghai by the resonant spirit of her paintings.

About the Artist

Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1938, Pat Steir studied art and philosophy at Boston University and received her BFA from the Pratt Institute in 1962. In 1963, she was invited to participate in her first group show at the High Museum in Atlanta, and the following year, her work appeared in exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She remains an important figure among the first wave of women artists to gain prominence in the New York art world.

For five decades, Steir has exhibited widely in American and European museums. She recently completed two major suites of monumental, rigorous Waterfall projects: Silent Secret Waterfalls for the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia (2019) and Color Wheel for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (2019–2021).

Steir’s work has been included in hundreds of group shows and is held in the permanent collections of major museums worldwide. Steir is the recipient of numerous awards. In 2017, she was awarded the International Medal of Art by the United States Department of State. 

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