Richard Haas (American, b. 1936). Circles in Space, 2021 (detail). Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist. © 2021 Richard Haas / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.
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In his most recent series of paintings and drawings, artist Richard Haas explores intersections between abstraction, color theory, and the geometry of the universe, bringing together passions and preoccupations from throughout his expansive and celebrated career. Richard Haas (American, b. 1936) is best known for his illusionistic architectural murals and trompe l’oeil style, painted on and within prominent buildings across the United States from Portland, Oregon, to New York City and Yonkers, as well as international commissions in Munich, Germany.

During the pandemic and while working from his home in Yonkers, Haas turned to painting on a more intimate scale, moving away from realistic imagery. He was inspired by the circular geometry of the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959), for whom he worked as a teenager. The experience played a formative role in cultivating his fascination with architecture and urban design, which features in a majority of his paintings, drawings, and prints. Haas was inspired by seeing hundreds of circular irrigation wells on flights over the Midwest and Plains states. He was also influenced by Hubble Space Telescope photos, which called to mind the early twentieth-century color experiments of artists Wassily Kandinsky, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, and Stanton MacDonald-Wright.

Haas was also reminded that artists and theorists have used circles to conceptualize our relation to the universe for millenia. The earliest drawing in the exhibition is his own take on Dante Alighieri’s concentric conceptions of heaven, purgatory, and hell. The installation of these visions of space in the Troster Gallery, outside of the Museum’s Planetarium, emphasizes these enduring connections between art and science and celebrates the much-anticipated reopening of the Planetarium on July 16, after being closed to the public for more than a year. Circles in Space will be on view from June 25–September 10, 2021.

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