September 2nd, 2020

60 Lispenard Street

P: 212 925 4631

New York, NY

The Summer


A Room




Detail of Joan Snyder Nature Remains, 2018

Canada is pleased to present The Summer Becomes a Room, Joan Snyder’s first exhibition with the gallery. Joan Snyder has been making expressive, materially complex paintings for over 50 years. Snyder first rose to prominence for her ‘stroke’ paintings, made in the late 1960’s and early 70’s during the male-dominated era of Minimalism and Color Field painting. These early experiments with mark-making and the grid were the first step in a career marked by wildly tactile paintings that are both formally rigorous and emotionally raw. Snyder has always drawn from the emotional content of her life and, as an early and active Feminist, from the political terrain of the times.


Snyder in her studio, Brooklyn, NY (Photo: Joe Fig)

The Summer Becomes a Room consists of a series of large-scale works, some diptychs, that reference fields and landscapes. They are expanses of bold color, punctuated by tender arrangements of symbols and text, collaged with burlap, silk, and organic matter like dried flowers, mud, and herbs. In these paintings, Snyder alludes to seasons and cycles–referencing music and poetry–and meditates on themes of trauma and love. Each step of the painting process is equal to any other for Snyder who takes care to let the viewer access each step of a painting’s creation.  Through this stance she offers us agency and insight; the drive to demystify painting stands as an empowering concept for the artist and viewer alike.

Snyder’s work has been a long time inspiration to Canada and this show is a fitting tribute to her impact as an artist and mentor. Joan’s commitment to her vision—sticking to her guns through ups and downs—is an act of artistic bravery. She is counted among a handful of artists who have been able to shift the dialogue about both painting and women’s voices in our culture as a whole. Wallace Whitney, one of the gallery’s founding partners, worked as Joan’s studio assistant in the mid-90’s and her practice made an impact on his own. Whitney notes Joan’s intuitive approach, her use of varied raw materials, and her commitment to the handmade as touchstones which would later inform the paintings and painters Canada went on to champion. In conjunction with the show, Canada is publishing a catalog with essays by Sean Scully and Helen Molesworth and an introduction by Wallace Whitney.

Snyder has been the subject of many museum shows, and was recently included in Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (December 2018, ongoing) and Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible at the Met Breuer (2016).

She has been the subject of survey shows at the Jewish Museum, New York (2005); Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, MA & The Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY (1994). In 2011, the exhibition Dancing with the Dark: Prints by Joan Snyder 1963-2010 was organized by the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers New Brunswick, NJ and toured to Boston University Art Gallery, MA; University of Richmond Museum, VA; and University of New Mexico Art Museum, NM.


Joan Snyder in front of Still, 2015 (Photo: Peter Jacobs)

 Her paintings are included in numerous museum collections such as: the Museum of Modern Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art; The Jewish Museum, all in New York; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; the Art Institute of Chicago, Harvard Art Museums, The National Gallery, Washington, DC; and many more. She was the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1974, the Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 1983, and the MacArthur Fellowship in 2007. She also received the Arts & Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters in 2016. Snyder received an AB from Douglass College in 1962 and an MFA from Rutgers University in 1966.


Snyder can weave together complex layers of meaning in a single work. In one sense it is a landscape painting: at over three meters in length it is long and thin, and it is painted on raw linen in oils and acrylics, but also stained with earth, drawn and written upon in charcoal, and scattered with poppy seeds and papier-mâché flowers. The format of the painting is mainly built through detached brush strokes; strokes that are at once reminiscent of Snyder’s breakthrough “stroke” paintings of the early ’70s.

 — Dan Sturgis, review on 'Rosebuds and Rivers' exhibition at Blain/Southern, 2019



Joan Snyder
Even a Melon Field, 2020
oil, acrylic, burlap, silk, cloth flowers, herbs on linen
54 × 108 inches (137.16 × 274.32 cm)

Joan Snyder
Ode to Summer, 2019
oil, acrylic, paper mache, burlap, poppy pods, dried flowers on canvas
60 × 120 inches (152.40 × 304.80 cm)

Joan Snyder
Black Lake, 2019
oil, acrylic, burlap, paper mache, leaves, herbs on canvas
24 × 96 inches (60.96 × 243.84 cm)

Joan Snyder
Field Marks, 2019
oil, acrylic, burlap, paper, rose stems on canvas
30 × 96 inches (76.20 × 243.84 cm) 


"The functions of Ms. Snyder's art, first and foremost, are to further the tradition of painting and to explore the most serious aspects of the human condition; to connect us not only to one another and to nature but to ancient rites and myths. She reminds us that no matter how modern and civilized we are, art can still be raw, primitive and talismanic. Without apologies or decorum, Ms. Snyder's work awakens all of the things still wild within us."

—Lance Esplund, Wall Street Journal, 2011


Joan Snyder
Inner Green, 2019
oil, acrylic, paper mache, burlap, dried flowers on linen
50 × 72 inches (127.00 × 182.88 cm)

Joan Snyder
Paint A Pond, 2019
oil, acrylic, burlap, paper on canvas
32 × 64 inches (81.28 × 162.56 cm)

Joan Snyder
In Woodstock, 2019
oil, acrylic, burlap, cloth, mud, herbs on linen
32 × 64 inches (81.28 × 162.56 cm)


"I believe that women artists pumped the blood back into the art movement in the 1970s and 1980s. At the height of the Pop and Minimal movements, we were making other art–art that was personal, autobiographical, expressionistic, narrative, and political–using words and photographs and as many other materials as we could get our hands-on. This was called Feminist Art. I grew up with minimalism and color field painting and Pop art. I wanted, needed more than that in my work….a painting builds up, layer after layer, and at some point I realize that this painting needs a piece of silk, some cheesecloth or glitter or plastic beads. The stuff has become part of my painting vocabulary, it’s that simple."

— Joan Snyder, quote from It Wasn’t Neo to Us, 1992


Joan Snyder
Horror Vacui, 2018
oil, acrylic, herbs, paper, cloth on linen
54 × 54 inches (137.16 × 137.16 cm)

Joan Snyder
Nature Remains, 2018
oil, acrylic, burlap, silk, paper, ink, raffia, herbs and rosehips on linen
50 × 72 inches (127.00 × 182.88 cm)


"Female Sensibility is layers, words, membranes, cotton, cloth, rope, repetition, bodies, wet, opening, closing, repetition, lists, life stories, grids, destroying them, houses, intimacy, doorways, breasts, vaginas, flow, strong, building, putting together many disparate elements, repetition, red, pink, black, earth colors, the sun, the moon, roots, skins, walls, yellow, flowers, streams, puzzles, questions, stuffing, sewing, fluffing, satin hearts, tearing, tying, decorating, baking, feeding, holding, listening, seeing through the layers, oil, varnish, shellac, jell, paste, glue, seeds, thread, more, not less, repetition....”

 —  Joan Snyder, the artist's personal journal, 1976


Joan Snyder
Love, Mom, 2017
oil, acrylic, cloth, paper, colored pencil, pastel, beads, glitter on canvas
52 × 72 inches (132.08 × 182.88 cm)

Joan Snyder
Storyboard, 2017
oil, acrylic, cloth, ink, paper, glitter, beads on canvas
50 × 70 inches (127.00 × 177.80 cm)


Maybe the male artists of our generation didn’t have stories to tell. We had so many stories. And we had dramas we needed to enact. The men were the inheritors of Color Field, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, we were not. We, perhaps, had not much to inherit. Not only were we reacting against the history of contemporary art in the late 60’s early 70’s but we were also digging deeply in another direction, into ourselves. And in this spirit we were forming groups, political groups, women’s consciousness-raising groups and collectives so that we and other women from all over the world would have a forum–our own forum.

— Joan Snyder


Joan Snyder
Lipshtick, 2017
oil, acrylic, ink, cloth, pencil, pastel, rose hips, paper on canvas
55 × 50 inches (139.70 × 127.00 cm)

Joan Snyder
SHE, 2017
oil, acrylic, watercolor, paper, cloth, colored pencil, pastel on canvas
60 × 42 inches (152.40 × 106.68 cm)


"For some artists, there is a desire to amalgamate the multiplicity of one’s experience into a single image, to comprehend it and give it order. Snyder presents that multiplicity as it is experienced...The disregard for formal perspectives (or for any single perspective or vantage point) in this work relates the painting to the way a child first makes objects larger or smaller according to a personal system of importance, rather than to an approximation of the ‘real’ values of the adult world. Similarly, Snyder appears to have disregarded the accepted values of formal-ordering in favor of a more personal, hermetic arrangement of images."

— Marcia Tucker, Artforum, 1971


Joan Snyder
The Summer Becomes a Room, 2018
oil, acrylic, herbs, rosebuds, burlap, cloth on canvas
42 × 62 inches (106.68 × 157.48 cm)

Joan Snyder
Always, 2017
oil, acrylic, ink, pencil, paper, glitter on canvas
55 × 50 inches (139.70 × 127.00 cm)

Installation Views

Photo: Molly Snyder-Fink

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