Andrew W. Young | Fathoming

Eerdmans is pleased to present Fathoming, an exhibition of abstract paintings by the New York City-based artist Andrew W. Young

The exhibition title is an invocation of post-Impressionist Georges Seurat, who described his work as “the art of fathoming a surface”—thinking one’s way into and beyond the conventional wisdom of picture-making, fathoming the depths of an image as one becomes absorbed in the act of creating it (in the words of critic Richard Shiff). The Eerdmans show finds Young engrossed in just such a pursuit, if working more reductively than Seurat did. Young essentializes his figurative subjects into abstractions: pushing and pulling their shapes, probing their relationships, testing the whole.


April 13-May 19, 2023


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New York, NY 10003

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“My objective is to distill tension and balance,” Young says of the body of work, which features nine canvases—some as large as 60 inches by 84 inches, painted in acrylic and oil, accented in graphite—as well as numerous smaller works on paper.

Abstraction is a relatively new means of expression for Young, who for decades painted figuratively (portraits, landscapes of New England, still lifes of oysters). His “window into modernism,” as he calls it, opened in 2004. Young and his wife, the interior designer Stefanie Scheer Young, were vacationing with their two children at Stefanie’s parents’ home in Castine, Maine. While in the area, Stefanie bought a pair of abstract paintings by an artist named William H. Holst (1912–1995), who studied, it turns out, under the legendary Hans Hofmann; Holst went on to become a celebrated painter and teacher, participating in the storied mid-century art scene in Provincetown, Mass., and then faded into obscurity. Young, not typically one to go in for such modernist musings, found himself under the spell of Holst’s “logical irrationality” (as ARTnews put it in 1962). Soon after, he set out on a quest to bring Holst’s legacy to light. He’s now spent years conducting extensive primary-source research on the artist and has become, in all likelihood, the world’s foremost (and perhaps only) Holst expert.

In 2020, a decade and a half into the William Holst Project, Young, having taken a break from his own painting, picked up a brush again. It was perhaps inevitable that the work would take a Holstian turn.

“I’d researched the man and his non-objective formal modernism for sixteen years at that time, and it hadn't occurred to me that I'd been studying ‘with’ him,” Young says. He began to interpret his chosen subjects abstractly, developing the approach on display in Fathoming.

Still, the work is grounded in an appreciation for the figurative. “I would be circumspect of someone who paints abstractly but could not draw a figure,” Young says, citing Charles Webster Hawthorne, George Bellows, and Robert Henri as figurative influences. “I’m not
saying I’m Leonardo in that area, but I'm doing abstract work by choice. I think it's important that it’s a choice.”

The son of an engineer and an educator, Young grew up in Lexington, Mass., whose public-school art programs were famously robust. Summers were spent in Truro, on Cape Cod—more art. Later, after attending Phillips Academy in Andover and then studying at Princeton University, Young moved to New York City and began a career in financial services. Art remained a constant for him: he painted still lifes to decorate his home, he took classes at the hallowed Salmagundi Club and Art Students League of New York.

sees Young traverse a well-worn creative corridor, against traffic. New Yorkers such as Edward Hopper famously sketched in Maine and brought their studies back to the city to execute full size; Young did the reverse, working small, on paper, in his Manhattan home, and then rendering the large formats in Castine. In “4:00 PM,” he seeks to present the most with the least as he distills a tea service to its essence (or perhaps beyond); “Witherle” is loosely based on a walk in the woods. Regarding the latter, Young says, “It’s a case of sourcing from nature a way of expressing tension, space, balance, and dynamics.”

Young has upwards of two hundred paintings in circulation. Poetically, the work has come full circle: he counts among his collectors former students of William Holst.