Rudolf de Crignis, American, 1948 - 2006
Painting #01-07, 2001
Oil on canvas
60 × 60 in. (152.4 × 152.4 cm)
Gift of Ben Maiden and Karen Bell in loving memory of Jan Maiden

© Estate of Rudolf de Crignis
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To create this vibrant oil painting, Rudolf de Crignis (1948–2006) carefully applied individual coats of different colors, one layer at a time. Taken together, the paint layers generate a translucent yet brilliant color. Of his process, the artist said, “Each decision, each step is important. The reaction to what has already been painted must remain open and clear. The layers are applied precisely, the paint worked until the relevant layer becomes integrated and enters into a relation with the existing work.” The paintings made this way possess a luminous depth; de Crignis repeatedly described the works as “catalysts” of light. A striking example of this technique, Painting #01-07 is a vivid blue square, scaled with the size of the human body in mind. With these dimensions, the painting becomes an immersive visual field. As was his custom, de Crignis left the edges of the painting white, so that they, in his words, “incorporate the walls.” As a result, the painting almost appears to float.

Born in Winterthur, Switzerland, de Crignis studied at the Form und Farbe Schule für Gestaltung (Form and Color School for Design) in Zurich and the Hochschule für bildende Künste (University of Fine Arts) in Hamburg, Germany. He began his career as a performance and video artist, exhibiting in the Swiss Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1976; however, he shifted his focus to painting in the early 1980s. At this time, de Crignis began visiting New York City, and in January of 1985, de Crignis received a six-month studio award from the City of Zurich and was provided with a loft in SoHo, New York City. In 1987, he saw To the People of New York, 1976, a series of abstract paintings by German painter Blinky Palermo, at Dia Center for the Arts, which had a profound impact on his painting practice. De Crignis began making meticulously executed paintings, often in radiant blues or subtle grays. In 1987, he moved to East Harlem, where he lived and worked until his death in 2006, at age 58. The artist has often credited the city of New York with opening his eyes to the possibilities of painting.