Believing hand-drawn and inked lithography interfered with the precision of his imagery, the artist chose a commercial offset process, flouting print world conventions by using photomechanical rather than fine art printing. In a performative full- circle, Conner returned the collages to their original printed state, producing twenty-six etchings bound in three black leather volumes and titled collectively DENNIS HOPPER ONE MAN SHOW VOLUMES I–III. Paula Cooper Gallery’s presentation of DECK drawings marks the first time these works have been shown as a group. Betsy Senior Fine Art is pleased to be the exclusive representative of the prints of Bruce Conner from the Conner Family Trust. (40 x 34.3 cm) Inquire Born in McPherson, Kansas, Bruce Conner (1933–2008) was raised in Wichita where he attended Wichita University. All images © 2020 Conner Family Trust, San Francisco / Artists Rights Society (ARS). Conner’s DECK drawings speak to the artist’s pioneering peripatetic yet iterative practice. Conner’s immersive felt-tip drawing process took on a performative aspect as the artist spent continuous hours making them, never lifting pen from paper in order to produce a graphically uninterrupted line. E-Catalogue: Bruce Conner, Afterimage, The Prints of Bruce Conner, 2012 In the mid-1970s and continuing sporadically for the rest of his career, Conner produced inkblot drawings of startling variety and innovation: grids of small, calligraphic shapes executed by blotting small puddles of ink between the folds of accordion-pleated sheets of paper. Though DECK was never completed, Conner returned to his original drawings in the 1990s, reordering them as singles and TRIOS—a move that was consistent with his collage mentality and disregard for traditional boundaries of artmaking. Bruce Conner was an American conceptual artist and member of the San Francisco Beat movement. Composed of tiny, intricate, filigree patterns on white paper, inkblots became Conner’s main artistic medium in the last decades of his life, during which he experimented with amplified scale. Conner experimented with intricate geometric drawings throughout his life, as in his Book Pages series (1967) which present sheets of paper almost entirely filled with continuous, wandering lines, as well as in his Rorschach-like inkblot drawings of the 1990s and 2000s. (40 x 34.3 cm), INKBLOT DRAWING JUNE 5, 1975 (detail), 1975, INKBLOT DRAWING JUNE 8, 1975 (detail), 1975, INKBLOT DRAWING JULY 20, 1975 (detail), 1975, INKBLOT DRAWING AUGUST 4, 1975 (detail), 1975. Created in the summer of 1975, Conner’s DECK drawings are some of the artist’s very first works in the INKBLOT series—one of his most expansive bodies of works. frame: 15 3/4 x 13 1/2 in. Though DECK was never completed, Conner returned to his original drawings in the 1990s, reordering them as singles and TRIOS—a move that was consistent with his collage-mentality and disregard for traditional boundaries of artmaking. frame: 13 1/4 x 21 1/4 in. Conner printed a limited number of unbound etchings, which will be on view in the exhibition. A decade later, these collages became the source material for a series of photo etchings produced with Kathan Brown at Crown Point Press in Oakland, CA and published in 1971-73. Acting simultaneously as artwork and as foil for a larger conceptual project, this series is considered by many to be among Conner’s major works. Setting himself and his work in critical opposition to mainstream American society, versatile and restlessly inventive artist Bruce Conner was a key part of the San Francisco Beat scene in the late 1950s. He received his BFA at Nebraska University in 1956 and continued his studies with scholarships at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and the University of Colorado. This led to the production of some one hundred prints, from small, single sheets to suites of up to twenty-five related panels (titled SET OF THREE, SET OF FOUR, etc.). Interested in shifting personas and subverting traditional notions of authorship, Conner attributed this body of work to his friend and fellow Kansas native, Dennis Hopper. Shown here as a group for the first time, Conner’s DECK drawings speak to the artist’s pioneering peripatetic yet iterative practice. Bruce Conner (1933-2008) was born in McPherson, Kansas and moved to San Francisco in the late 1950s where he became a pivotal figure in the Beat scene of poets, writers, artists and performers. Bruce Conner. A would-be collaboration with his friend, the poet Michael McClure (1932–2020), DECK was conceived of as a set of cards, each printed with a lithographic reproduction of single inkblot on one side and a pair of words on the reverse. Born in McPherson, Kansas, Bruce Conner (1933–2008) was raised in Wichita where he attended Wichita University. A person playing with the set would produce different poetic phrases by arranging and rearranging the cards. The retinal effect of his starkly monochromatic drawings of the 1960s and 1970s is achieved through the use of densely woven lines, creating highly complex shifting patterns. E-Catalogue: Bruce Conner, Dennis Hopper One Man Show , 2016. Drawings and prints of later years are credited to “Anonymous” and “Anonymouse”, two of several alter egos invented by Conner to manipulate the idea of artistic identity and authorship. Conner’s works are in the collections of many major museums, including The Guggenheim Museum; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Whitney Museum of American Art; The Museum of Modern Art; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Art Institute of Chicago; The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; and The Centre Pompidou, Paris. It brings together over 250 objects, from film and video to painting, assemblage, drawing, prints, photography, photograms, and performance. In 1970, concerned about the fugitive nature of his felt tip drawings, Conner initiated the meticulous reproduction of the images at Kaiser Graphics, a commercial printer in Oakland, California. Several of Conner’s DECK drawings introduce wispy, interconnected blots, while others are darkly inked and drawn with greater sharpness—like small, self-contained space invaders or hieroglyphics. The unwillingness in the mid-1960s of his Los Angeles dealer Nicholas Wilder to exhibit the work under another’s name, as well as Conner’s refusal to reveal his own identity, led to their relative obscurity during this time period. Rather than recognizing his works as fixed products, Conner consistently edited or repurposed his own drawings, sculptures and films. Conner’s collages depict a surreal, hallucinatory universe populated by images of flora and fauna, machine parts, and disembodied figures. 6 x 4 in. In 2000, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, organized a retrospective of Conner’s work titled “2000 BC: THE BRUCE CONNER STORY, PART II,” which traveled to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the M.H. Paula Cooper Gallery’s presentation of DECK drawings marks the first time these works have been shown as a group. The sequential relationship between one drawing and another - the unfolding of form to form - is preserved to great effect in the thematic organization of the print portfolios. Active in all media, including painting, collage and assemblage, sculpture, graphic arts, filmmaking, and photography, Conner brought a radical and iconoclastic approach to art-making, questioning and rejecting ideals of artistic purity, style, and identity, as well as the market-driven dynamic of the art world. Art critic and curator Michael Smith understands Conner's mandalas and other drawings not only as visual products, but as "records of obsessive performances", during which Conner … Emerging from the West Coast countercultural movement, he restlessly explored mysticism and spirituality, punk rock and psychedelia, while tenaciously rejecting American jingoism and consumerism. (33.7 x 54 cm). Totemic and enigmatic, these rows of symmetrically arranged patterns read as documents scripted in a mysterious language.