Sue Scott Gallery

Pat Steir


Pat Steir, A Nearly Endless Line, 2010, light, paint, and chalk, installation view. Sue Scott.

Ann Landi
ARTnews, February 2011

It may seem far-fetched to compare a gallery-going experience with a soak in a hot tub under a brilliant night sky, but Pat Steir's installation The Nearly Endless Line (2010) elicited a response beyond the esthetic and into the therapeutic. Time spent with the artist's work, as the drawing journeyed around the walls of a warm, darkened room, brought about a sense of calm. The viewer followed the roughly brushed line, illuminated by blue lights, as it snaked across the gallery walls at eye level, occasionally breaking into acrobatic loops. The walls themselves were painted a deep, inky blue, so densely layered that they appeared to have the texture of velvet or felt. At points, the line seemed to cast a shadow, though this turned out to be a second linear iteration in deep blue. Such is the magic of light, color, paint, and space that the line almost appeared to float, lending a faintly hallucinogenic aspect to the whole encounter. It even suggested how 19th-century viewers might have reacted upon first seeing van Gogh's Starry Night.

Steir may be best known for her "Waterfall" paintings, whose imagery is made from overloaded dripping lines, but she has also been involved with installations in the United States and abroad for much of her career. Six tall, narrow works on paper in the gallery entrance, all from the 1991 series "Winter Group," gave a small sense of her talents as a painter, but they were no match for the immersive pleasure of The Nearly Endless Line. A better introduction was available in the gallery's office, where a speeded-up video showed Steir in the process of making the work.