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Dan Christensen
Born October 6, 1942(1942-10-06)
Cozad, Nebraska
Died January 20, 2007 (aged 64)
Easthampton, New York
Nationality American
Field Abstract painting
Training Kansas City Art Institute, University of Indiana
Movement Abstract Expressionism, Post-minimalism, Color Field painting, Lyrical Abstraction
Awards 1969 Guggenheim fellowship

Dan Christensen, the American abstract painter, was born in Cozad, Nebraska on October 6, 1942, he died in Easthampton, New York on January 20, 2007. He is best known for paintings that relate to Lyrical Abstraction,[1] Color field painting and Abstract expressionism.

His early work from 1965-1966 was related to Minimalism. A graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, class of 1964, Dan Christensen moved to New York City from the Mid-West during the late summer of 1965. Christensen was represented by several influential galleries including the Andre Emmerich Gallery, the Salander/O'Reilly Gallery and several others throughout the USA and Europe. He is the veteran of more than seventy-five solo exhibitions and hundreds of group exhibitions. His paintings are in important museum collections throughout the United States and Europe.


Art world beginnings

Dan Christensen arrived in New York City in the summer of 1965 from the Mid-West, with the purpose of establishing himself as an important contemporary abstract painter. With his friend from Iowa - the painter David Wagner, he rented a loft on Great Jones Street in lower Manhattan. After several months of experimenting on new abstract paintings with interlocking rectangular "L" shapes in shades of tan, grey, ochre and brown that resembled jigsaw puzzles in oil paint, he began to use acrylic paint. Christensen began painting the series of abstract paintings for which he became first known - his Minimal "Bar" paintings in the spring of 1966. After Dave Wagner returned to Iowa in March of 1966, his friend the painter Ronnie Landfield shared his Great Jones Street loft with him until the early winter of 1967.[2]

Dan Christensen was part of a large circle of young artists who had come to Manhattan during the 1960s. Kenneth Showell, Peter Young, Michael Steiner, Ronnie Landfield, Dick Anderson, his brother Don Christensen, Peter Reginato, Carlos Villa, David R. Prentice, James Monte, Frosty Myers, Tex Wray, Larry Zox, Larry Poons, Robert Povlich, Neil Williams, Carl Gliko, Billy Hoffman, Francine Tint, Lee Lozano, Pat Lipsky, John Griefen, Brice Marden, John Chamberlain, Donald Judd, Frank Stella, Carl Andre, Dan Graham, Robert Smithson, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Kenneth Noland, Clement Greenberg, Bob Neuwirth, Joseph Kosuth, Mark di Suvero, Brigid Berlin, Lawrence Weiner, Rosemarie Castoro, Marjorie Strider, Dorothea Rockburne, Colette, Marisol, were just a few of the artists he saw regularly at Max's Kansas City - the favorite place for artists in New York City during the 1960s.[3].

Early career

In the late fall of 1966 the art dealer Richard Bellamy visited the Great Jones Street loft and began to represent Dan Christensen's work. Bellamy invited Christensen to exhibit his paintings at the Noah Goldowsky Gallery in the late spring of 1967. Dorothy Herzka co-curated a group exhibition that included Dan Christensen, Ronnie Landfield, Kenneth Showell, and Peter Gourfain in February 1967 at the Bianchini Gallery on W. 57th Street in Manhattan. All of those four painters were invited to be included in the Whitney Museum of American Art's 1967 Annual exhibition. In the late spring of 1967 Dan Christensen began painting with spray guns and produced his first "linear spray paintings," for which he became famous. By 1968 he began to exhibit his paintings in important art galleries from New York to California and worldwide. In the late 1960s he participated in several important exhibitions that traveled throughout the United States, including the Lyrical Abstraction Exhibition that originated at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.[4] During the remainder of the 1960s and throughout the 1970s Christensen regularly exhibited his paintings at the Andre Emmerich Gallery, and the Noah Goldowsky Gallery in New York City, the Rolf Ricke Gallery in W. Germany, the Nicholas Wilder Gallery in Los Angeles, and the Meredith Long Gallery in Houston Texas, and New York City.

Dan Christensen's paintings were included in the Whitney Museum of American Art's annual exhibition's in 1967, 1968 and 1969 and in the first biennial exhibition in 1973. During the late 1960s and 1970s Dan Christensen's paintings were included in numerous group exhibitions, in influential galleries and museums. His work was included in several important articles in the media about the newest generation of American artists. He work was discussed and reviewed in the New York Times, Newsweek, Artforum, Art in America, Art News, and many others. In 1968 he was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Grant and he was awarded a 1969 Guggenheim fellowship.[5]

Late career

Christensen's abstract paintings changed and evolved throughout his career. During the final ten years of his life he moved with his family to East Hampton, New York from Manhattan. From November 2001 through February 2002 Christensen had a retrospective exhibition at The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio; and shows of his paintings in galleries in Boca Raton, Florida, Houston, Texas, Santa Fe, New Mexico, New York City and in 2007 he had a retrospective exhibition at the Spanierman Gallery in Manhattan. His paintings are in the permanent collections of The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art,[6] the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Washington, DC., the Chicago Art Institute, the Nelson-Atkins Museum Kansas City, Missouri, Boca Raton Museum of Art and dozens of others.


On January 18th 2007 Dan Christensen enjoyed the opening of an important survey exhibition of paintings selected from his long painting career, spanning the years from 1966 until 2007 at the Spanierman Gallery on E. 58th Street in Manhattan. After enduring Polymyositis for nearly nineteen years, Dan Christensen died on Saturday, January 20, 2007. He is survived by his wife Elaine Grove Christensen (actress), and his three sons: Moses, James (of the Hip Hop group Junk Science, currently signed to Definitive Jux records) and William, his brother Don and two sisters.


  1. ^ Ashton, Dore. Young Abstract Painters: Right On! Arts v. 44, n. 4, February, 1970, pp. 31-35.
  2. ^ Exhibition Catalogue, Ronnie Landfield: Paintings From Five Decades, The Butler Institute of American Art, Seeking the Miraculous, pp.5-6 ISBN 1 882790-50-2
  3. ^ High on Rebellion: Inside the Underground at Max's Kansas City, by Yvonne Sewall-Ruskin, forward by Lou Reed, Thunder's Mouth Press NYC. 1998, pp.2-105
  4. ^ The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyrical Abstraction, exhibition: April 5 through June 7, 1970, Statement of the exhibition
  5. ^ list of Guggenheim fellows
  6. ^ ,MoMA

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