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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born 1927, New York City
    Died 2015, Schagen, Netherlands

    Selected museum exhibitions and performances: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Van Bommel Van Dam Museum; Venlo; Baltimore Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum, New York.
    Selected museum exhibitions and performances: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; Hampton University Museum, Virginia; Howard University, Washington, D.C.

    Growing up in Harlem during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Sam Middleton emerged as an artist in early 1950s New York where he formed close friendships with New York School artists such as Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, and Robert Motherwell. Seeking a more open-minded environment to pre-Civil Rights America, Middleton moved to Schagen, Netherlands, in 1962. Middleton’s profound love for music, fostered from an early age in New York’s jazz scene, was at the heart of his mixed-media work. “For me, improvisation is a galaxy of color,” Middleton said. “When I listen to music I feel like a soloist.” In his search to “paint sounds”, Middleton was challenged by the changing tempo, the hint of melody, and the speed and dexterity of jazz – basing his choice of color, line and composition on sound and harmony. His compositions combine collage elements with decisive painterly gestures against luminous backgrounds, often alluding to the music playing his studio as well as the local Dutch landscape.

    Middleton’s work was collected and shown in major U.S. museums in the 1960s and 1970s, notably in the pivotal 1962 exhibition Forty Artists under Forty at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, which more than fifty years later included him in the America is Hard to See collection exhibition in 2015. Though he has received recognition in Europe – the Van Bommel Van Dam Museum in Venlo, Netherlands, organized a retrospective of his work in 1997 –he he only received his first, posthumous solo exhibition in the United States in 2017.



signed and dated "MIDDLETON 64" lower right
mixed media and collage on paper
20 1/8 x 30 1/8 in. (51.1 x 76.5 cm.)
Executed in 1964.

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New York Selling Exhibition 10 January - 8 February 2019