Susan Schwalb
spacer StatementspacerBiospacerResumespacerTechniquespacerBookspacerInterviewsspacerCollectionsspacerCatalogsspacerNewsspacerContactspacerHome
Recent Paintings
Paintings 2009–2016
Paintings 1997–2008
Drawings 1997–2015
Artist Books

Metalpoint 1974–95
Sculpture 1977–96
Susan Schwalb: Convergence/Variations

Download catalog
(18 MB .pdf)
"Schwalb’s passion for music is reflected in the titles, which came about intuitively: Intermezzo, Polyphony, Harmonizations, and the like. For Schwalb, music is parallel to the interpretation of abstraction....As with musical notes, the markings on the surface can be amplified and glimmer, or fade and disappear, under certain light variations. For Schwalb, abstraction through the line creates movement and rhythm, the metalpoint providing an additional quality of reflective light to the work. “What I want the viewer to do when standing in front of my work is to notice all the subtle differences on the surface and to experience the effect of an abstract universe composed of lines and reflection of light.” These highly refined and finished paintings with precisely applied strokes require an intimate engagement — the close inspection revealing the artist’s skill at fine mark making. Schwalb masterfully expands the art historical into a contemporary lexicon."

Still Masters — Patrick Heide Gallery at Frieze Masters London 2021

Look through the Frieze Masters London Still Masters catalog with Susan.

Still Masters
Download catalog
(5.7 MB .pdf)
     "Susan Schwalb was born in New York City in 1944 and has, throughout her career, become widely known for the revival of the metalpoint technique, which Schwalb has practiced almost exclusively since 1974...Schwalb began with a figurative exploration of the medium herself, for example an quasi classic series of skilfully drawn sensuous orchids in silver and copperpoint. Gradually moving away from the more traditional depictions, the idiosyncrasy of metal point, the precise and sensual quality of the line and the subtle nuances in the surface treatment, allowed Schwalb to explore new themes and make technical trials when researching the medium in more depth."

A Luminous Line: Forty Years of Metalpoint Drawings by Susan Schwalb

A Luminous Line
Download catalog
(3.9 MB .pdf)
  "Schwalb, as artist, historian, adviser, and teacher, plays an important role in the Arts Center's exhibitions and acquisitions of drawings in metalpoint, as she does for collection throughout the United States and around the world...Now, the Arts Center is proud to host a stunning retrospective of Schwalb's important career in metalpoint. She is a leader of metalpoint as an artist and collector as well as mentor and inspiration for metalpoint artists around the world. Schwalb's works are among the loveliest and most profound contemporary abstractions in any medium."
Excerpt from essay by Ann Prentice Wagner, PhD, Curator of Drawings, Arkansas Arts Center

Susan Schwalb — Spatial Polyphonies: New Metalpoint Drawings

Spatial Polyphonies
Download catalog
(1 MB .pdf)
  "At the same time, Schwalb recognizes that no matter how much control she is able to exert on her work, both she and her art are material things vulnerable to time’s vicissitudes. By folding this consciousness into her work, Schwalb is able to bestow upon it an emotional resonance that distinguishes her project from those we associate with Minimalism and reductive art. Her work is not static and makes no claim to being timeless. Rather, her work is about passage on many different levels, the myriad distinctions and differences that constantly reveal themselves in the face of constant change. Her work underscores her belief that nothing – including the seemingly simple act of drawing a line – is mundane, and that all activities are inextricable from time."
Excerpt from essay by John Yau, art critic, essayist, poet fiction writer, and publisher

Susan Schwalb — A Gathering Quiet: Metalpoint Paintings and Drawings

A Gathering Quiet
Download catalog
(1.7 MB .pdf)
  "Layering, line and light are Schwalb’s signatures....The light ultimately turns Schwalb’s works into serene, meditative statements that remind me of the light and stillness in the paintings of a master from centuries ago: Johannes Vermeer. As with Vermeer’s works, Schwalb’s command the viewer’s leisurely gaze."
Excerpt from essay by Christine Temin, freelance writer and former art critic, The Boston Globe

Susan Schwalb: Interior Voyages

Interior Voyages
Download catalog
(2.2 MB .pdf)
"The finished work, at once layered and luminous, alludes to the earth's strata, as the title of an earlier series suggests, while appearing to shimmer before our eyes...Elusive things, such as remembered color and the quality of light, suffuse the artist's paintings and capture a sense of the places she has lived and worked. "
Excerpt from essay by Helaine Posner, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, SUNY

Music of Silence: Metalpoint Paintings and Drawings

Music of Silence
Download catalog
(325 KB .pdf)
"The series’ title, the Music of Silence, adapted from a poem by Stéphane Mallarmé, refers to another source of inspiration for the artist. The gentle rhythms of her modulated silverpoint bands, and evocation of sound waves in her wavering colored lines, suggest an affinity with music, as does the language she chooses to describe the “echoes” or “reverberations” of her work...Like the best abstract painting, Schwalb’s work transcends technique and materials and aspires to the sublime. It is easy to lose oneself in her contemplative, quietly expressive work, and emerge richer for the experience."
Excerpt from essay by Helaine Posner, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, SUNY

Susan Schwalb: Recent Metalpoint Paintings and Drawings

Recent Metalpoint Paintings and Drawings
Download catalog
(128 KB .pdf)
"Though elegant and spare, the subtle waving of line belies the minimalist ideal of mechanical precision. Schwalb’s medium is antithetical to the minimalist aesthetic, which would favor industrial materials. Her repetitions offer too much modulation; the lines fluctuate and waver. There is shading and movement and even the suggestion of receding space. The depth in her marks opens up the flat surface of the picture plane. From a distance, there is even the suggestion of an image—anathema to minimalists! When compared, say, to Malevich’s Suprematist work, Schwalb’s appears positively Baroque. It is precisely this, her eloquent expression of subtle variation and delicate divergence within the framework of precision, which is so seductive."
Excerpt from essay by Joanne Stuhr, Independent Curator

Atmospheric Disturbances

Atmospheric Disturbances
Download catalog
(11.6 MB .pdf)
"Her idiom is reductive, concentrated on horizontal lines to create fields of fluctuating color. While her vocabulary is restricted, these lines can vary infinitely, of course, and recall the paintings of Agnes Martin and many of the 1970s minimalists. However, Schwalb's use of line is distinctively her own, veering from the reticent to the more expressive, especially in the suite that is the nucleus of this show, 'Atmospheric Disturbances,' where the colors are richer and more apparent, the bands broader, the lines sometimes curved and otherwise more obviously irregular and the imagery even more reminiscent of landscapes and natural phenomena, invoking abstract expressionst moods."
Excerpt from "Point to Line to Plane," by Lilly Wei, Independent Curator and Writer

AFTERIMAGE: Recent Metalpoint Paintings and Drawings

Download catalog
(6.8 MB .pdf)
"...Schwalb creates works of astonishing complexity, as the different tones and colors of the metals gently meld and slip into one another. Far from confining or restricting the line, in Schwalb's hands the exquisite facture of the metalpoint is reminiscent of the fluidly rendered and lumious transparency obtained from that most instinctive and spontaneous of techniques, watercolor. It is a remarkable visual effect, one that not only reveals a highly attuned sensibility to the beauty and sensuousness of delicately defined tonalities, but which also dispels any perceived limitations of the medium itself."
Excerpt from essay by Edward Saywell, Director of the West Wing, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston