Vaughn Spann: Lineage is the first museum exhibition of the artist’s abstract paintings. It will feature a wide range of works from Spann’s ongoing series of Rainbows, Dalmations, Xs, and Flags. These deep and rigorous works use textured mixed materials, paint, and explosive colors, delving into expressionist and conceptual concerns related to tropes of black identity and aesthetics in art, history, race, politics, popular culture, and personal and collective memory.
Vaughn Spann: Lineage is the first museum exhibition to focus exclusively on the artist’s abstract paintings including examples from his ongoing series of Xs, Rainbows, Dalmatians, and Flags. He refuses to restrict himself to one visual language – abstraction or figuration – and prefers instead to give himself the freedom to flex in either direction, often both at once. Spann often speaks about his refusal to “choose one conversation:” “I wanted to tap into a lineage of making. . . a lineage that represented my heritage not just ethnically but materially.” He is mindful of the interrelatedness of his formal and conceptual concerns and this reciprocal process is one of unifying elements of his practice.
Spann’s work delves into formal, expressionist, and conceptual concerns related to tropes of black identity and aesthetics in art, history, race, politics, and personal and collective memory. The paintings range in size from roughly 20×20 inches to massive multi-panel paintings that stretch to 300 inches wide. These deeply sensual, tactile, and color-packed works use unexpected textured mixed media materials, such as hand-dyed terry cloth, thick granular pigment mixed with paste, sand, and fiber, and dried splotches of latex house paint, often applied by hand, thrown onto canvases from above, or covered with an extended paint roller, squeegee, palette knife, and sometimes even a paint brush. The works can be improvisational and athletically built up into powerful, emotive seemingly volcanic or geological reliefs, while others are pre-planned and more cerebrally organized. Spann’s abstract paintings may be experienced purely on formal terms in relation to the history of abstraction and in relation to an art historical discourse regarding race and representation dating back to early debates around African American art during the Harlem Renaissance, Great Depression, and Black Arts Movement.
Vaughn Spann lives and works in New Jersey. He received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from Rutgers University in 2014 and an MFA from Yale School of Art in 2018. Spann was a recipient of Titus Kaphar’s NXTHVN Residency in 2019 and the 2017 Alice Kimball Traveling Fellowship from Yale. He has had solo exhibitions worldwide and is represented by Almine Rech Gallery in New York and David Castillo Gallery in Miami. His work is included in many public and private collections including the Albright-Knox Museum, Deji Art Museum, The Cornell Fine Arts Museum, The Columbus Museum of Art, The Hammer Museum, Aishti Foundation, The Pond Society, Longlati Foundation, Cc Foundation, The Zuzeum, Birmingham Museum of Art, High Museum of Art, UBS Art Collection, Rubell Museum, De La Cruz Collection, Vanhaerents Art Collection, Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection (The Bunker), Jimenez-Colon Collection, and Credit Suisse Corporate Collection, among others.