Peter Young was born in 1940 in Pittsburgh and grew up in Los Angeles. He studied at Pomona College for two years before moving to New York in 1960. Young’s paintings have continuously defied categorization since his early New York years showing with Leo Castelli and Richard Bellamy. He has been described variously as the first post-modernist painter, as well as a minimalist and an abstract surrealist. From the beginning, his paintings have addressed the rigid formal criteria of minimal art that prevailed in the 1960’s. In Young’s work, seemingly playful constellations of circles and dots replace restrictive geometric formalism, while colorfulness and pictorial density give way to surprising sensuality and poetic momentum.
The New York art world in the late 1960’s was intimate and sectioned into easily identifiable social circles. The group that frequented Max Kansas City during this time was a smaller division of artist clusters that ignited several creative discussions and congregations through regular nightly bar drinking. The club closed in 1981, but was truly the birthplace for Peter Young and his contemporaries, a group of painters that included Dan Christensen, William Pettet, Larry Poons, and Ronnie Landfield, among others.
Although Young and his peers formed an artistic collective, each artist went on to pursue very individual stylistic endeavors. Young has long incorporated grids and geometric repetition in his work. Yet, even among these geometric compositions, his prescribed imperfections, dreamlike dialogues, and poetic psychedelics have allowed his work to fall outside of the codes of the purely minimal. Producing paintings that incorporate dots, bands, lines and blots, Young creates work that sometimes borders on abstract expressionism, but primarily is his own individualist and non-conformist style.
By 1969, Young had begun to distance himself from American artistic circles. He travelled to Morocco and Spain, and spent time with the Boruca Tribe in Costa Rica. Following his travels, he landed in Bisbee Arizona, where he resides today. Despite distancing himself from the American art scene for several years, Young has continued to show in many significant exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad.
Following his first two solo exhibitions in 1967 and 1970 at the Noah Goldowsky Galley, Young then exhibited at Richard Bellamy’s Oil & Steel Gallery in Tribeca in 1984. Richard Bellamy also ran The Green Gallery, which opened in 1960 and showed works by many prominent artists, such as Robert Morris, Claes Oldenburg, Donald Judd, and James Rosenquist. Through Bellamy’s interest in Young’s work, it came to the attention of then P.S.1 Director, Alanna Heiss, and in 2007 the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center dedicated a comprehensive survey exhibition to the artist’s work, accompanied by a monograph, focusing on the period between 1963 and 1977.
His work has been included in exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, Arizona; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Guggenheim, New York; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington, D.C.; as well as the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Tate St. Ives, United Kingdom; Rolf Ricke, Cologne; and Documenta 5, Kassel, Germany. Peter Young’s work is featured in collections, including the Allen Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio; the American University, Washington D.C.; the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Neuberger Museum, Purchase College, New York; Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita; University of Texas, Austin; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.