Rackstraw Downes’s mesmerizing urban landscapes of New York have been acquired and displayed for years by the city’s most influential museums. Yet the painter is decidedly in no rush to meet connoisseurs’ demands. Mr. Downes is celebrated, in fact, for never being in a rush. He takes an entire summer to complete a single oil painting of a street scene, working meticulously from first to final stroke. He paints seven days a week, weather permitting, to get at the plein-air truth of the city’s grit and glory.
The University of California, Davis, is honoring Betty Jean and Wayne Thiebaud by naming a new lecture series for them. The first lecture will be delivered by artist Rackstraw Downes, a MacArthur Foundation fellow, in May.
Rackstraw Downes Nature and Art are Physical: A Reading At the New York Studio School April 8, 2014 The artist will read from his newly published book Nature and Art are Physical: Writings on Art,1967-2008 (Edgewise Press, 2014). Recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, 2009, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, 1998. Inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1999. Represented in major collections throughout the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Represented by Betty Cuningham Gallery, Downes lives and works in New York City and Presidio, TX. Lectures begin at 6:30, lectures are free and open to the public. Seating may be limited. 8 W 8th street, NYC
New York TimesRackstraw DownesDecember 20, 2012
Rackstraw Downes excels at painting marginal, sometimes desolate landscapes — whether urban or rural — with tremendous sympathy and slightly distorted spatial effects, which render them absorbing and oddly majestic. He paints looking at his subjects — en plein-air, as the French say.
Painting with a photographer’s eyeRetrospective examines Rackstraw Downes’s panoramic landscapesDecember 24, 2010
PORTLAND, Maine — Rackstraw Downes, a celebrated painter of views, likes to define his approach to painting in opposition to photography. He paints en plein air — setting himself strenuous logistical challenges in the process — and boasts of not even owning a camera.
Art in America: InfrastructuresRackstraw DownesNovember 2010
Since taking up landscape painting in the early 1970s, Rackstraw Downes has devised and refined a quirky brand of realism in which close attention to visual fact vies with an idiosyncratic conception of pictorial space.