Film Screening and Exhibition about Celebrated Painter Tom Nozkowski A'67

POSTED ON: April 4, 2024

Film screening
untitled Nozkowski painting

Untitled (4-14), 1975, oil on linen on panel, 16" x 20" (40.6 cm x 50.8 cm). ©Thomas Nozkowski, courtesy Pace Gallery.

untitled Nozkowski painting

Untitled (2-94), 1975, oil on linen on panel, 16" x 20" (40.6 cm x 50.8 cm). ©Thomas Nozkowski, courtesy Pace Gallery.

Cooper alumnus Thomas Nozkowski (1944–2019) is the subject of a new documentary film called Looking at Pictures on a Screen: Thomas Nozkowski, made by another Cooper alumnus, Gabriel Rodriguez-Fuller. The films release coincides with an exhibition of the artist's work at Pace Gallery on West 25th Street that runs until April 20 entitled Everything in the World. On April 12, The Cooper Union will host a free public screening of the documentary

Nozkowski, a painter and a 1967 graduate of the School of Art, had a career spanning more than four decades. In that time, he produced an extraordinary body of work. His paintings—most recognizable for his compact abstractions drawn from everyday surroundings—are included in the collections of major art institutions across the country. 

Rodriguez-Fuller, who graduated from the School of Art in 2017, hadn’t known of Nozkowski’s work while a student at Cooper, but in 2018 he saw an exhibition of the artist’s work at Art Omi in Ghent, New York. “I was taken with the paintings for their sense of humor and inventiveness. I had the idea to do a documentary then.” In researching the artist, Rodriguez-Fuller, who even as an undergraduate was focused on film and video, discovered that Nozkowski had gone to Cooper and was greatly influenced by film. After four years, he proposed a documentary about Nozkowski to the artist’s son Casimir, also a filmmaker. 

Rodriguez-Fuller, whose most recent feature, The Gene Pool, will stream on NoBudge, feels drawn to the paintings because, he says, their fun, quick-time narratives have a sense of the temporal not typically seen in painting. “Each one creates a scenario, both within the fictive space of the painting and in whatever room the painting is physically in. So each contains gags, beats, reversals.” 

As part of the film’s screening at Cooper, a panel of artists and critics—Suzanne Joelson, Chris Martin, David Levi Strauss, and Robert Storr—will discuss Nozkowski’s oeuvre with the University of the Arts’ Sid Sachs moderating. The event is co-sponsored by The Brooklyn Rail.

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