FROM WAREHOUSE TO OUR HOUSE: THE MONUMENTAL WORK OF VERNON PRATT is presented in collaboration with The Vernon Pratt Project.
Vernon Pratt (1940-2000) was an artist who worked in the style of minimalism and modernism, through a lens of color theory and formulaic mathematical systems. Pratt was quoted as saying “simple is complicated enough”, and that may be the best way to sum up his work. To the untrained eye, his paintings and sculptures appear lean, overly simplified, and devoid of complexity; but upon further inspection, it’s made quite clear that the opposite is true. Pratt’s geometric, often gridded, and intricately patterned artworks, are centered around mathematical precision. As a trained Jazz musician, he incorporated his knowledge of music into his paintings in order to create his systematic abstractions.
While much attention is given to surface and process, Pratt’s paintings transcend the canvas, aiming towards a greater understanding of connectedness, both amongst humans and the larger material world. Much like his contemporary, Sol Lewitt, Pratt used structure and order to translate conceptual principles. Parsing out individual elements, each line and shade, obsessively analyzing color and pattern, was not only about the terrestrial terrain but the all-encompassing nature of life itself.
An immensely prolific artist, creating both two and three-dimensional works, Pratt left behind a treasure trove of works when he passed suddenly in 2000. Both the quantity and scale made it a daunting task for his family to care for the works that remained in storage. This particular body of work on view at CAM Raleigh is the result of the efforts of The Vernon Pratt Project, spearheaded by William H. Dodge, as means to salvage and rehome Pratt’s artwork. Through Dodge’s efforts, the majority of Pratt’s artworks have found permanent residence in museums and institutions. The remaining works offered on view at CAM are a rare opportunity to see and learn about a local, unsung hero of the arts in North Carolina.
CAM Lower Gallery
Pratt studied his undergraduate coursework at Duke University in Durham where he grew up before transferring to the San Francisco Art Institute where he studied under received his B.F.A and his M.F.A before returning to Duke University to teach. Pratt was the focus of a major solo exhibition at NCMA (1985-86), and has exhibited in numerous high-profile shows nationally and internationally including The NY Times reviewed “Tit for Tatlin” exhibit at the Alternative Museum in NY (1984), collaborating with Sol LeWitt, creating the NC Education Wall (with Georgann Eubanks) and being friends and contemporaries of Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and James Weeks. More recent exhibitions include major solo shows at the Gregg Museum of Art & Design (October, 2018 – February, 2019) and the Western Carolina University Fine Art Museum (August – November, 2018).
A documentary meditation directed by Louis Cherry and Marsha Gordon on artist Vernon Pratt’s abstraction painting, ALL THE POSSIBILITIES OF FILLING IN SIXTEENTHS (65,536). The over 1,400 square foot systematic painting was completed in 1982 but only recently exhibited posthumously for the first time.
Gradients series: “73 Grays”, “37 Grays”, “19 Grays”, and “10 Grays”
Exact measurements are unknown, however all range between 17-6’ and 20’ in length and 2” and 20” in height.
Photo attributed to Vernon Pratt