Curated by Anna Conlan
January 22 – April 5, 2020
Alice and Horace Chandler Gallery and North Gallery
Leonard Contino, LADY, 1967, courtesy the Estate of Leonard Contino
Leonard Contino was a Brooklyn-born, self-taught abstract artist whose tenacious exploration of pictorial space spanned a fifty-year career. In 1959 at the age of 19, Contino was severely injured in a diving accident. Paralyzed from the shoulders down, he retained some mobility in his arms and hands, and needed to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. While in rehabilitation at the Rusk Institute in New York City, Contino met a fellow patient, the sculptor Mark di Suvero, who would become a lifelong close friend. Di Suvero challenged him to start making art. Until this point, Contino’s creativity had been mostly directed to “pinstriping” decorative lines onto hot rod cars in his Brooklyn neighborhood. With di Suvero’s encouragement and the help of a metal brace to support his wrist, he began to draw and then to paint. Contino went on to create extraordinary art for the next five decades. He became devoted to his daily practice of painting from morning to evening, and often then making collages late into the night. Contino later observed that being an artist was like a religious calling, you had to be “totally dedicated.”
Featuring over eighty artworks, Totally Dedicated is the largest exhibition of Contino’s work to date and encompasses large hard-edge geometric paintings, playful collages, delicate reliefs and sculptures from the 1960s through the 2000’s. It also includes two painted steel sculptures that di Suvero and Contino made together.