May 31, 1937. Born in the heartland, Des Moines, Iowa, on May 31st, 1937, Larry Zox was a distinctly American artist whose exuberant geometric abstractions made a strong contribution to the Color Field movement of the 1960s and ’70s. In its heyday, Zox’s studio on 20th Street was known as a colorful gathering place for artists, jazz musicians, bikers and boxers. A powerful, muscular man Zox often trained with boxers to maintain the kind of energy he believed he needed for creating his large-scale works.
Larry Zox (1937-2006)
Series VI, 1970
Silkscreen, 66 x 57 cm.
Gift of William K. Weinstein ‘60
Collection of Hobart and William Smith Colleges
American abstract painter born at Des Moines, Iowa on May 31, 1937. Studied at the University of Oklahoma, Drake University and then the Des Moines Art Center under the mentorship of George Grosz, a figurative artist who nevertheless encouraged the young abstract painter. Zox moved to New York in 1958 and became part of the downtown art scene. His earliest works, completed in 1959-62, were painted collages consisting of painted pieces of paper stapled onto joined sheets of plywood. Afterwards, he made pictures similar in appearance to the collages, but entirely painted and with straight as well as ragged edges. Zox began his ‘Rotation’ series in 1963 to use a standardised geometrical compositional schema as the basis for a series of paintings each different in colour. Some of the compositions, suggesting overlapping, bending etc., were evolved with the aid of plywood and perspex reliefs. By the mid-60s, his large geometric paintings were appearing at prestigious galleries. Zox maintained a studio on 20th Street that became a gathering place for artists, jazz musicians, bikers, and boxers. A large man, Zox occasionally sparred with visiting fighters. Later, he had a studio in East Hampton, where he liked to fish and was even known to go fish spotting by helicopter. By 2005, when he had his first New York solo show in more than two decades, his style had mellowed from the hard-edged geometry of the 1960s and 70s. His lines had become more fluid and his surfaces more painterly, but his concern with color and shape remained unabated. Zox died of cancer on December 16, 2006.