B. GEORGIA, 1928
D. NEW YORK CITY, 2011
Pat Passlof (1928-2011) was born in Georgia in 1928 and grew up in New York City. In the summer of 1948, she studied painting with Willem de Kooning at Black Mountain College, and continued to study with him privately after they returned to New York. That fall, De Kooning introduced her to Milton Resnick. She and Resnick began to live together in the mid-1950s and married in 1962.
Passlof’s early work was influenced by de Kooning and utilized the kinds of biomorphic forms explored also by de Kooning and Gorky; as well as the existentialist ideology which informed Abstract Expressionism. However, Passlof was always very individualistic and her work was constantly varied in terms of touch, form, and palette. She was never content to repeat herself.
By the 1960s her palette was beginning to lighten. She used repeated patterns and marks across the canvas to create dynamic rhythms. She drew upon experiences and memories, as noted by titles referring to people and places. However, she never believed in narrative in painting, even when, in later years, her work became peopled by centaurs, nymphs, and horses.
Her work often suggested abstracted landscapes, like the later work of Claude Monet, although Passlof often worked in a vertical format. She lived and worked in the Lower East Side, in a former synagogue. Her husband, Resnick, had his own synagogue building as a live/work space. In addition, they spent time in the Shawangunk Mountain area of upstate New York, and the space and air of the mountain ridge influenced her painting. Passlof was a beloved and dedicated professor who taught at Richmond College, CUNY, from 1972 to 1983; and the College of Staten Island, CUNY from 1983 until 2010 (the year before her death.) The 2018 publication To Whom the Shoe Fits, is a compilation of letters she wrote to her undergraduate students over the years.
Passlof was the subject of a solo exhibition at the famed Green Gallery in 1961. In the 1960s and 70s she also showed at the Globe Gallery, the Feiner Gallery, and the Landmark Gallery. Beginning in the 1990s, she exhibited regularly with Elizabeth Harris Gallery. A retrospective of her work was held at the Black Mountain College Museum in 2011. A painting was recently acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, and included in their 2017 exhibition, “Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction.”