Edvins Strautmanis 1933–1992
Edvins Strautmanis was born in Latvia in 1933. Emigrating with his family to Chicago in 1950, Strautmanis studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and worked in the graphics department of Playboy magazine. He began exhibiting in Chicago in 1965, before moving to New York in 1970. Over the years Strautmanis showed at LoGiudice Gallery, Allan Stone Gallery and Stephen Rosenberg Gallery. His work is included in many notable collections, including The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Herbert F Johnson Museum of Cornell University, the Phoenix Museum of Art, the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL, and the Kunsthaus in Zurich, Switzerland. Strautmanis has been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Art in America, and Artforum. He died at 58 in New York in 1992.
A disciple of the grand action painting first consecrated by Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning in the 1950s, Edvins Strautmanis began developing his own larger-than-life works after moving to New York in 1970. While Strautmanis built on the foundation of Abstract Expressionism, he brought more body- conscious methods to that vocabulary, akin to the "perfomative" paintings of Gutai artists such as Kazuo Shiraga. Working on canvases that he laid on the ground, Strautmanis used enormous brushes and brooms to apply the grand sweeps of color and movement that are a constant in his best known works. Like the spin-paintings of Damien Hirst, which incorporate actual movement to produce their fluid surfaces, the paintings of Edvins Strautmanis appear as a clash of chemical energies in a state of great flux. Although the methods of application are violent and hasty, the often frothy acrylic surfaces of his paintings engulf like an ocean wave of vivid color. The artist called these sweeps of color “calligraphic strokes," structures for emotive power suspended in time and space.