matt connors: in search of casual minimalism

matt connors nyc contemporary artist rothko

American contemporary artist Matt Connors has an uncanny ability to reference the great artists of the last century while still creating unbelievably vibrant and unique works. Working in New York City, Connors is gaining recognition as one of Art + Auction’s top “50 under 50” collectible artists. Having shown his work in numerous galleries across the United States and Europe and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC in 2014, I decided to take a closer look at some of Connor’s work to see how my clients might like him.


matt connors nyc contemporary artist mondrian

Contemporary art still elicits strong reactions from some clients: I have those who steadfastly refuse anything perceived as too “complex” or “trying too hard”. Then more and more, I have those who are wide open to experiencing whatever the art world can throw at them. Matt Connors gives us a little bit of both which makes his paintings and sculpture perfect for many of my clients.


matt connors nyc contemporary artist albers

As I discussed some of the paintings shown here today with clients, we touched on artists like Rothko, Mondrian, and Albers. These artists and their traditions obviously have inspired Connors, but his bright arresting color palette and his technique that sees his canvases thinly covered in a wisp of paint are clearly his own unique style. I particularly like the dialog Connors creates with simple shapes and contrasting color, and for me, its incredibly important that a painting has something to say.


matt connors nyc contemporary artist yellow

One of my favorite Matt Connors paintings is this sublime canary yellow canvas entitled Flicker (3 to 5 color): yellow that was included in his first solo museum show at MoMA’s PS1 space. This is minimal, casual abstraction at it’s absolute finest. The canvas glows and radiates the warmth of the yellow, and there is just a hint of a story in blue and orange paint showing through the yellow field on each side of the canvas. Anyone can live with such a beautiful painting and it’s an easy bridge between lovers of classic art history and those looking for something new and fresh.


matt connors nyc contemporary artist

When speaking with clients about contemporary art, the story I most often hear is that a painting will look “dated” in a couple of years. Having visited hundreds of clients over the course of my career my typical response is to say “yes, you’re right: Andy Warhol’s Marilyn in those shocking neon tones totally screams 1960s”, and of course then I’m met with resistance and pushback with clients saying how it’s a classic and they would kill for one today. In 1962, Marilyn was innovative and exciting and completely different to what came before and it took a brave person to buy and hang one in their home. So today if you see a painting that you connect with and can’t stop thinking about, take a chance on it and bring it home. Who knows, that Matt Connors painting you buy today may look even better in 50 years!

Richard Rabel is a New York Interior Designer and Principal at Richard Rabel Interiors+ Art Ltd., a studio offering residential design, decorating and art advising.

image credits: Matt Connors, New York. He is represented by the Cherry and Martin Gallery, LA; and the Canada Gallery, NYC.