Milton Resnick (1917–2004):
Paintings and Works on Paper from 
the Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation


May 10 – August 21, 2014

This major survey exhibition presents work from Resnick’s entire six-decade career, including a rare 1937 portrait; quintessential Abstract Expressionist paintings from the 1940s and ‘50s; a selection of the large allover paintings of the 1960s through 1980s for which Resnick is best known; and a group of late figurative works


Drawn entirely from the holdings of the Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation, this will be the largest exhibition of Resnick’s work to date, and the first career survey exhibition to be held on the East Coast. Museum retrospectives of Resnick’s work have taken place in New Mexico (1971) and Texas (1985) but never in New York, where it is long overdue.

Milton Resnick was born in Bratslav, Russia in 1917, and immigrated to New York City with his family in 1923. He grew up in Brooklyn, and entered the American Artists School in 1933. In the 1930s he was on the WPA Artists’ Project and met Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, John Graham, and other downtown artists. In 1940, Resnick was drafted and served in the U.S. Army through all of World War II. After returning to New York in September 1945, Resnick immediately began painting abstractions, thereby cementing his historical position as a member of the first generation of American Abstract Expressionists. He was a founding member of the Artists’ Club of the 1950s.

Over his long career, Resnick painted “through” classic Abstract Expressionist action painting to arrive at works that gave the impression of allover monochromatic fields, although in fact comprised of myriad hues. Through the 1970s and 1980s his paint application became increasingly dense and his palette generally darkened, resulting in canvases of subtle, almost topographical presence. Radically uncompromising in their reliance on the materiality of paint, yet romantic and deeply satisfying, these works are considered to be his major achievement, and the entire first floor gallery at Mana is dedicated to paintings of this period. They include the landmark works Elephant, 1987, at 18 feet long the largest painting in the exhibition, and Debris, 1971, which is 17 feet long. In the last years of his life, Resnick turned to figurative and imagistic paintings, alternating darkness and mystery with humor. He died in 2004 in New York.


Press Release

(1) Veil of Isis, 1985
(2) Straws, 1981
(3) Elephant, 1987