September 12 — October 9, 2015
Rosemarie Castoro Studio
151 Spring Street, #6
New York, NY 10012
In the third edition of BROADWAY 1602 OUTDOORS, we present a show of New York Minimalist Rosemarie Castoro (1939-2015) in her 1964 Soho loft studio.
Born in 1939 to a Brooklyn based family of Italian origin, Rosemarie Castoro was a central protagonist among the New York Minimalists and one of the few highly recognized female painters in this milieu. Throughout her career Rosemarie Castoro regarded herself as a “futurist”. Her visionary thinking manifested in her pioneering and extensive oeuvre of the most profound artistic consequence. During her student years at Pratt Institute in the early 1960s, Castoro found her initial inspiration in modern dance and choreography exploring concrete movement in space.
In 1964, Castoro moved into her new Soho loft studio mediated by her friend Lee Lozano. By this time the artist had decided to channel her central aesthetic concerns to focus on painting. Henceforth, Castoro created a seminal body of work of highly sophisticated minimal abstraction. Her form experimentation first defined in colored drawings was soon further developed in prominently scaled canvases.
Rosemarie Castoro was working in direct dialogue with the new Minimalist tendencies. In a recent statement in the TATE ETC. magazine (Summer 2015 issue) on her friendship with Agnes Martin, Castoro wrote: “I had met Agnes in her studio in the late 1960s. We were both painters who made ‘paste-ups’ for a living, with triangles and T-squares on drafting boards as our tools in trade. I was using Prismacolor pencils at the time, cutting out huge triangles from cardboard to make multi-chrome paintings, and the straight edge of the canvas stretchers as my ‘drafting table’. Back then painters had a camaraderie, meeting through other painters. Often we would meet at bars, or visit each other’s studios for tea. In 1972 I made a ‘cut-out’ brush work for Agnes which was part of a series of wall sculptures created with a non-art brush – this one was a large broom – that spelled out her name in Pitman shorthand. I had made a series of these portraits based on friends’ names. ‘Guinness Martin’ came about as a disguise of Agnes’s name.”
The studio on Spring Street had become Castoro’s work and living space until her recent passing in May 2015. It was a place of constant experimentation and production and a central meeting point for the scene. We see photos in Castoro’s archive of bohemian gatherings in which almost every legacy artist of New York’s 60s avant-garde is in the picture: Lawrence Weiner, Richard Long, Alice Weiner, Sol Lewitt, Robert Smithson, Carl Andre, Jan Dibbits, Susan Weiner, Mary Valentine, David Novros, Marjorie Strider, and many others.
In the late 1960s the Art Worker’s Coalition meetings took place in Castoro’s loft:
“I attended the meetings…after it was opened up to all artists, where previously I was excluded from meetings at my own loft, which included Takis, Hans Haacke and Carl Andre.”
While her loft was a social hub, and a place of progressive art debate and manifestation, Castoro insisted on an intense and introspective studio practice in which she often performatively interacted with her own work, witnessed only by the eye of a self-timer Polaroid camera. From the late 1960s onwards Castoro kept annual conceptual journals. The style of her diaristic writing was close to her concrete poetry practice – a genuine artist philosophy dedicated to experiences on specific days, events and circumstances. The origin and trigger of her writing was always the studio practice, and her work was infused with autobiographical instances abstracted in philosophical statements. Castoro inserted in these journal entries the self-timer Polaroids, showing her in the studio interacting with her work as an artistic mise-en-scène.
The Loft Show was originally planned by Rosemarie Castoro herself for this season, with reference to the common practice of loft shows held in the studios of the New York avant-garde in the 60’s and 70’s. These self-organized shows gave the artists independence from the institutional and commercial realm, as back then artists were holding generous real estate with their studio spaces, a situation that is far more compromised and challenged today in Manhattan for artists, galleries and non-profit institutions and initiatives alike.
Sadly, Rosemarie Castoro passed away unexpectedly in May. We are with this studio project providing an insight into her studio practice and fulfilling her last show concept.
This show will be open by appointment throughout September 2015.
We would like to thank the family of Rosemarie Castoro and her close friends for their generous support of this project.