Whatever you think realism means, Rackstraw Downes is certainly some kind of realist— and, moreover, one whoseelective subject matter is landscape. That in itself suggests a quixotic temperament in an artist born in 1939 whose immediatecontemporaries include any number of abstract, Conceptual, and performance artists but few realists—at least of his stature.
One thing that comes across in the drawings of Rackstraw Downes is the austere, almost monastic life he has lived in order to make art.One thing that comes across in the drawings of Rackstraw Downes is the austere, almost monastic life he has lived in order to make art.
There are two Rackstraw Downes in this remarkable show of 33 drawings and one oil on canvas. The range is huge, from 1975 until 2020, but with the bulk of the drawings made in 2020. Not exactly a retrospective, but enough of one for us to see two discrete phases in his career: his mature style and his late style.