Franklin Parrasch Gallery is pleased to present the second in a series of two-artist, cross-generational shows in our Chelsea project space (548 West 22 Street): John Altoon / Michael Williams. Two sources of raucous abstraction, the late-Los Angeles artist John Altoon (b. 1925-d. 1969) and contemporary Brooklyn-based painter Michael Williams (b. 1978) commingle and exchange riffs, each in their own individually formed vocabularies of abstract symbolism.

In the early 1960s, Altoon forged his ethereal style of surreal abstraction in which vaguely identifiable anthropomorphic and zoomorphic images engage in psychosexual scenarios. Once described by Irving Blum (former owner of the famed Ferus Gallery) as “dearly loved, defiant, romantic, highly ambitious and slightly mad … incredibly gifted and absolutely brilliant”, Altoon was the consummate maverick among a generation of maverick Los Angeles artists.

Williams’ paintings embrace an amalgam of abstract tropes that read as arrangements of slowly pieced montage, steeped in sexuality, physicality, and humor – rebuffing the heavy-handedness of the AbEx dogma. Richly pigmented, tube-squeezed paint “noodles” protrude from veils of deftly-layered, airbrushed fields. Williams’ own personally derived symbols propose the language of his paintings. Filtering both light and image, Williams addresses the canvas as a tableaux upon which he builds scenarios of conflating color, texture, and animated information.

John Altoon was born in 1925 in Los Angeles and studied at the Otis Art Institute, the Art Center College of Design, and the Chouinard Art Institute. During his lifetime, Altoon exhibited at the Ferus Gallery (Los Angeles). Posthumous museum exhibitions of his work have taken place at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), the La Jolla Museum of Art (La Jolla), and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (San Diego). More recently, Altoon’s work was featured in eight venues of The Getty Center’s Pacific Standard Time initiative. Recent solo exhibition venues include Mary Boone Gallery (New York), NYEHAUS (New York), and The Box (Los Angeles). The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has scheduled a major retrospective of Altoon’s work in 2015, curated by Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Carol Eliel.

Michael Williams was born in Doylestown, PA in 1978. He received a BFA from Washington University (St. Louis, MO). Williams’ work has been exhibited in a number of solo shows at CANADA (New York), The Journal Gallery (Brooklyn), and LTD (Los Angeles); and in group exhibitions at Galerie Bernard Ceysson (Paris), Museum 52 (New York), Leo Koenig Projekte (New York), and OHWOW (Miami).

This exhibition takes place at 548 West 22 Street; hours are 11a-5p Tuesday-Friday, 10a-6p Saturday.

For images, biography, and further information, please contact the gallery at or 212-246-5360, Tuesday-Saturday 10a-6p.

franklin parrasch gallery
20 w 57 st and 548 w 22 st
t 212-246-5360 f 212-246-5391