Ronnie Landfield
Ronnie Landfield, 16?? Above Zero, 1971

16° Above Zero, 1971, 132 x 240 inches, acrylic on canvas

16° above zero, 1971 was painted by Ronnie Landfield between December 1970 and January 1971 at his studio at 31 Desbrosses St. in NYC. It was made one year after his first one man show at The David Whitney Gallery in October-November 1969 and five months before his second one man exhibition there in May 1971. It was created to hang in the public lobby of the national headquarters of Westinghouse Corporation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was installed there in February 1971 and it currently remains there.

The large Ronnie Landfield painting 16° above zero is an amalgam of historical and painterly directions. Almost like Jackson Pollock meets Magritte at the Matissean crossroads of Juddian polemics. It is a highly charged, dynamic, multi-colored abstract landscape painting with stained areas, thickly brushed and drawn shapes, squeegeed areas both opaque and translucent, and with paint splattered and splashed across the stained central bridge and across the hard edge band on the bottom. It is an important historical work. It is one of the largest Ronnie Landfield paintings in existence and at eleven by twenty feet it is the only horizontal Landfield painting that exceeds ten feet in height.

16° above zero, 1971 was painted with the intention of expanding the parameters of American painting. It was made during a time when the only apparent viable course open to new painting was Minimalism, Pop Art or a restricted Greenbergian type of Color Field Painting. 16° above zero, was painted 14 years after the death of Jackson Pollock and represents a moment when American painters returned decisively to expressionism. That moment was characterized by the term Lyrical Abstraction. For want of a better term it still characterizes the expressive abstraction that was created by American painters during the late sixties-early seventies, many of whom were reacting against Minimalism and Greenbergian Formalism. The era of the late sixties is unfortunately one of the least understood eras of Twentieth Century Art and Lyrical Abstraction has been suppressed for three decades. 16° above zero is a difficult, powerful and tough picture that is not an easy painting to get used to, it is an unknown masterpiece from that nearly forgotten time.