The Deeply Satisfying Pleasures of Harriet Korman’s Paintings

Harriet Korman, “Untitled” (2019), oil stick on paper, 12 x 16 inches

You don’t need to use a lot of colors to be a great colorist. This became obvious when I saw the exhibition Harriet Korman: New Work at Thomas Erben Gallery (February 24–April 9, 2022), her fourth with the gallery. To further define the singularity of Korman’s achievement, in contrast to many other abstract artists of her generation (she was born in the 1940s) who have been in pursuit of color, she does not nod to pop culture in her color choices, nor does she have a signature structure into which she drops her hues. Rather, she works in distinct series without any ostensible subject matter. As a consequence, she has not developed either a signature style or palette, those conventional access points the art world seems to crave. She wants the viewer to have a more direct and open encounter with her work, which is a seldom-traveled road these days.

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