I am always drawn to American contemporary artists who push the envelope with their creativity and I am glad to have stumbled upon the work of Texas born Donald Moffett (b.1955). While some of his earlier paintings are charged with political statements and social critic, the works that I personally love are those shown today which break away from the two dimensional aspect of fine art and encourage the viewer to interact with them. Moffett also creates sculptures incorporating his textured canvases and seemingly random objects, but these are more difficult to place into a home if the client is not too versed in contemporary art, so we will focus on his canvases.
Donald Moffett has a curious method of naming his pieces – each is assigned a “lot” number, so the main image, for example, is entitled lot 121814. I suspect this is a statement about the commercialization of art that the artist accepts as part of today’s ethereal art scene. Several of his canvases seem to explode as if torn apart by violent forces. Where Lucio Fontana’s slashed paintings seem to reveal a serene void within art, Moffett’s work appears to be leftovers from a wild Texas shoot out. Many are riddled with large holes that seem to entice the viewer into the vacant, empty spaces. Textured layers of paint build up the surface that looks remarkably like Astroturf and it gives the pieces a tactile dimension. Yet another series incorporates zippers into the canvases. I always feel these canvases should be zipped closed and that the buyers should zip theirs open once the piece is home and a surprised is revealed!!!
Today’s American contemporary artists are creating works that clients really can live with. Where I sometimes find video installations and some contemporary sculpture difficult to place in client’s homes, Donald Moffett’s canvases are perfect additions to a collection. He often creates brilliant monochromatic canvases that become elegant and interesting additions to a space. I always try to place one great piece of art like these as a focal point to a room to give it some personality and character. Art like this is an excellent conversation starter and is sure to earn the envy of guests. This type of painting is also different enough from conventional canvases that it complements more traditional pieces rather than competing with them for attention.
Having read up on Donald Moffett’s early work on behalf of gay activism, I can see subtle overtones of sexuality that critics have found in his pieces. But the beauty of art lies in the eye of the beholder – you see what you are drawn to see. In his you don’t have to worry about his art being to overtly political or offensive. Moffett’s work can be found along with other American contemporary artists in public collections like the Whitney and MOMA, both in New York and also the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A. It’s definitely worth seeking him out for his unusual and attractive canvases.
Richard Rabel is a New York Interior Designer and Principal at Richard Rabel: Interiors+ Art, a studio offering residential design, decorating and art advising.
image credits: american contemporary artists: donald moffett; marianne boesky gallery, new york, who represents the artist.