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MAXWELL STEVENS is an American artist born in 1971 who lives and works in New York City. He received an MFA in Painting from the School of Art at Washington University in St. Louis in 1995, and a BFA in Painting from The Atlanta College of Art (now SCAD Atlanta) in 1993.  He is best known for his multi-layered paintings and drawings that overlay photorealistic images with vivid, energized abstractions.


Shortly after moving to New York City, after many years of working exclusively in non-representational abstraction, Maxwell Stevens embarked on a significant stylistic shift in his approach to his art. He began composing his canvases with recognizable imagery, incorporating photorealist figures and lifelike scenes into his works, and then abruptly superposing these paintings directly with tumultuous abstractions. This new period is clearly identifiable by large abstract painted gestures superimposed directly on top of photorealist paintings that have become increasingly descriptive, with each series correlating the seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, around a deeply personal and often autobiographical theme.


In an essay entitled Maxwell Stevens: Thesis, Antithesis & Synthesis, NYArts Magazine observed “These vivid gestures of thick impasto grow invariably in an upwards motion as abrupt expressions that reach the viewer with immediate emotional charge and the space far beyond the canvas.” By dramatically increasing the surface tension of the canvases, from the chaotic clouds of brushstrokes that remain individually visible underneath, to the bowlike tension of a unified flat and hard mirror surface, the artist makes them most accessible to the viewer.


Writing for Meer Magazine, Art Critic Alejandro Pardo described the paintings this way, “The surface you see becomes both the frontier that separates and the gate that opens and integrates the outer and inner spaces.” The possibilities with his newly invented approach has allowed him to introduce a wide variety of content and narrative situations into what at first glance often appears as a purely abstract picture, opening up to new subject matter while raising important questions about the very nature of representation, perception, and pattern recognition, constantly questioning and pushing the limits of painting as a form.


Often working with everyday scenes drawn directly from life, the artist has said “I’m interested in the domestic arena as the primary site for our psychological and emotional experiences, and in how we exist differently, historically, within each passing moment. I try to use abstraction and the fragmentation of representational imagery to evoke this.” Exploring an array of subjects over the years, his pictures address many of the shared aspects of the human condition.


Maxwell Stevens has exhibited extensively and internationally in contemporary venues from Tokyo to Paris to New York, alongside major artists such as Cy Twombly, Joseph Beuys, and Dorothea Rockburne.  His paintings and projects have been featured in numerous publications including Art in America, Art Collector News, Contemporary Art Explore, Cultbytes Magazine, USA Art News, NY Arts Magazine, Meer Magazine, The Museum of Modern Art Contemporary Drawing and Print Associates Bulletin, Fine Art Connoisseur, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Art Papers, among many others.  The artist lives and works in New York City.



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