November 30, 2020 3:00pm
Peter Joseph, who is best known for his minimalist paintings often featuring squares and rectangles, has died at age 91. Reached by ARTnews, Lisson Gallery, which has represented Joseph for much of his career, said that the artist died of complications related to a broken hip.
Born in London in 1929, Joseph studied art in Florence, Italy, and was greatly influenced by the Renaissance masterpieces he encountered there. He had a brief stint as a figurative painter, but, inspired by Ellsworth Kelly, Donald Judd, and Mark Rothko, he began to nurture his interest in geometry, color, and space, and some of his earliest works featured elegant plays of different shapes and hues.
Joseph began exhibiting his work in exhibitions in London in the 1960s at venues including Lisson Gallery, Marlborough Fine Art, Camden Arts Centre, and Signals Gallery. The artist received the first prize in the Nottingham-based Midland Group Gallery’s John Player Painting Competition in 1968, and it was in the following decade that his star would begin to ascend in the international art world.
Over the next several decades of his career, Joseph created two-toned paintings that served as contemplative experiments with form and color. In the 1970s, his work was exhibited at the eighth Bienal de São Paulo, the Hayward Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Galerie Nancy Gillespie—Elisabeth De Laage in Paris, and elsewhere. He once said, “A painting must generate feeling otherwise it is dead.”
Joseph’s works in recent years have departed from this signature early format. His pieces from the past decade have taken a more lyrical approach to abstraction, playing with brushstroke weights and exploring what happens when asymmetrical forms are placed beside each other. The artist lived and worked in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, in his final years, and he showed work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Modern Art Oxford museum, the Fundação Serralves in Portugal, the Stadtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in Germany, and other international institutions.
In a statement, Lisson Gallery founder Nicholas Logsdail, a longtime friend of Joseph, said, “I mourn with great sadness the loss of this wonderfully original painter and Renaissance man. He was one of the first artists I showed at Lisson Gallery and until now, the longest standing.”
Logsdail continued, “He was a great visual poet who will surely now be discovered for the magnitude of his achievement, as a great master of color, light, space, proportions, the foreground, the background and the mysterious intermediate space in between.”