ABOUT HIS ART
Clayton Pond (b. 1941) was among the first artists to employ silkscreen printing in a fresh, distinctly personal way. His paintings and limited edition silkscreen prints are immediately recognizable for their bright, cheerful colors and their compositional balance. Over the span of his career, his work has revealed a fascination with vibrant color interactions, and the infinite possibilities that color relationships present. Deviating from the expected and rejecting the conventional, his particular use of color offers the viewer a charming, idiosyncratic interpretation of the world.
Pond’s subject matter ranges from immediate, domestic, and every-day surroundings to the outlandish, surreal, and fantastical, including his imagined perspective of outer space. His interpretations of the human condition evoke his unique sense of humor.
Throughout his career, the artist has enjoyed depicting both literal images and abstractions, or “section paintings.” In a section painting, Pond enlarges small areas from his larger works, creating a delightful exploration of detail. By recasting an otherwise recognizable object (such as a toilet seat), the artist suggests a whole new set of associations with the amplified image. In many of these works the original subject matter is not immediately discernable, and in this way the artist is interested not only in playfulness and experimentation, but also in the subconscious and its influence on the viewer.
He occasionally paints relief sculptures, which he refers to as “3-D paintings.” In these, he may paint on separated layers of Plexiglas or, alternately, on cut-out, layered pieces of aircraft birch plywood. This process takes to a more literal level the three-dimensionality suggested by the colors and shapes in his one-dimensional paintings.
Commenting on landscape painting, the artist has said he considers it “difficult to improve upon the real thing, or to compete with the scale and three-dimensional aspect of nature.” However, he has no qualms about “messing around with man-made objects.”
Pond has said in the past that he does not identify with one particular movement, though critics have suggested a connection to the Pop and Op Art movements. Life, he has said, is the main influence in his work. He transitions easily between making paintings and prints, and the influence between the two is apparent.
Clayton Pond’s artwork has been exhibited and collected internationally. He has had over 60 solo exhibits. His work is in the permanent collections at MOMA, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the National Gallery of Art and many more.
ABOUT HIS PRINTS
Through trial and error Pond determined that the silkscreen printing process, or serigraphy, was the best printing method for translating the images of his paintings into limited edition prints. Pond thinks of this stencil printing process as just another way of painting.
Historically, artists’ prints were engravings, etchings, woodcuts, and lithographs. Prior to 1960, serigraphy was primarily a commercial printing process. When artists did make serigraphs they commonly used very few colors and the ink dried to a dull, chalky surface.
Pond received early recognition in the 1960s and 1970s for his serigraph prints. His work stood out at the time not only because of his use of bright multiple colors and strong imagery, but also because of his technical advances in this printmaking process. His prints were unique because they had up to twenty very bright and shiny colors and very sharp registration. The colors looked as if the ink was still wet, and the prints had a topographically varied surface created by the thickness of the ink layers.
Pond developed a reductive process of layering the colors, requiring very tight registration, color upon color, starting with a wide-open stencil, then reducing the open area for each subsequent color. He would then coat his prints with varnish. The varnish added a uniform glossy surface that enhanced the intensity of the color. The varnish also protected the colors from scuff marks and the fading resulting from oxidization.
For many years Pond printed most of his own print editions, developing his unique methods and becoming a master printer of his own work. Eventually the time spent printing numerous commissions made it difficult to spend as much time on his paintings as he would have liked. In 1978, Robert Blanton, a master printer with a wide range of expertise, came to work in Pond’s studio, where he printed for and collaborated with Pond. A year later, Blanton started his own print shop, Brand X Editions Ltd. Pond moved his printing equipment to the Brand X studio and continued producing prints under Blanton’s supervision.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Clayton Pond was born in 1941 in Bayside, NY, and raised in the Long Island sailing community of Port Washington, NY. As a child he was always interested in drawing, designing (houses, cars, and boats), and model-making. He got his first sailboat while in high school, sparking a life long interest in sailing
When the U.S.S.R. launched the first satellite, Sputnik, in 1957, Pond and his high school peers were encouraged to study math, science and engineering so that the U.S. could beat the Russians in the space race. Not until his sophomore year at Hiram College was he able to take his first elective: he chose art. That spring, during his first one-man show in the lobby of his dorm, he proudly announced (to his parents’ dismay) that he wanted to go to art school and become an artist. He transferred to Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) and earned his BFA degree in 1964.
One of the first Pop Art shows was held a short walk from the school at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, PA. It was not clear to Pond at the time what Pop Art was about. The artists’ work on display was diverse, the only common thread appearing to be a mutually shared art dealer, Leo Castelli.
His graduate studies at Pratt Institute (MFA degree, 1966) were formative for his art career. It was there he began to discover his artistic individuality. He developed his drawing style and a keen interest in the use of bright, intense color relationships in his paintings. He also taught himself the serigraph process.
While pursuing his graduate degree at Pratt, he began exhibiting and selling his art and building an exhibition resume. He became affiliated with the Pratt Center for Contemporary Printmaking and joined Sylvan Cole’s Associated American Artists Gallery, where he was featured in their New Talent Exhibition in 1966. In the same year his silkscreen prints were shown in the 15th National Print Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum and in the Boston Printmakers Annual where he won the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Purchase Prize Award. The following year Pond’s work was included in a group exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
In the fall following his graduation from Pratt he joined the Martha Jackson Gallery, one of the most prominent galleries in New York at that time. He had his first New York painting exhibition there in 1968. Martha Jackson Gallery remained Pond’s primary gallery for his paintings and prints throughout most of his New York career. Later on, the gallery transitioned to become the David Anderson Gallery, owned by Martha Jackson’s son, and the relationship continued.
Pond was among the early artists to pioneer the SoHo area of lower Manhattan. He moved to his Broome Street studio in 1966, and then to Greene Street in 1969. Compared to his suburban childhood on Long Island, life in the art community and industrial loft building area of New York City was an exciting experience. The interiors of his studio lofts, and the street-found objects he used to outfit them, became the subject matter for much of his art during this period. Of particular interest were the Greek-columned façades of the SoHo Cast Iron District, declared a National Historic Landmark area in 1978. Pond lived and worked in his studio loft on Greene Street for twenty-six years.
In 1995 Pond moved to Atlanta, Georgia with his family, where he continues to work in his studio making drawings, collages, paintings, and painted relief sculptures. He spends part of his summers in Vermont and the Adirondacks Mountains of upstate New York.