The George Adams Gallery is pleased to present selected works on paper by Peter Saul from the 1960s along with the public debut of the short film Pictures of Peter Saul. The film, shot in Mill Valley, California in 1969 by Kai Mel de Fontenay, offers a unique perspective into the artist’s outlook on the world, his artistic process, and his personal history during a transitional period in his career following his return to the United States after spending nearly a decade living in Europe.
In 1957, after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, Saul lived in the Netherlands, France, and Italy, during which time he drew inspiration from American magazines and comics. After his first exhibition with the Allan Frumkin Gallery in 1961, Saul was quickly identified as part of the emerging Pop Art movement with work featuring images inspired by American publications such as Time and MAD Magazine. Works on view Superman and Untitled (Mad), both completed in 1962, combine these cartoonistic forms drawn from pop culture with an all-over composition reminiscent of abstract expressionism.
Saul returned to the United States in 1964 and settled in Mill Valley, California, where the major political events of the era – the Vietnam War and Civil Rights protests – soon transformed his work. In the short film Pictures of Peter Saul, the artist elaborates on his recent paintings from the period, notably Typical Saigon, Untitled ($62,000), Come and Get Me, as well as other seminal works completed in 1968, with unflinching bluntness. These paintings, rendered in DayGlo colors featuring over-sexed G.I.s, caricatures of Asian individuals as stark symbols of wartime atrocities, were widely regarded as obscene.
Peter Saul was born in San Francisco, California in 1934. He attended the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco and Washington University School of Fine Arts in St. Louis. Saul’s work has been the subject of numerous museum retrospectives, most recently organized by The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York in 2020; His work has also been featured in major group exhibitions domestically and internationally, including at the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; MoMA PS1, Long Island City; and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus. He has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including multiple National Endowment for the Arts grants, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1993, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in 2002, the Artist’s Foundation Legacy Award in 2008, election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2010, and an honorary doctorate from the New York Academy of Art in 2021.
Saul’s work is included in major international public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, among many others. Peter Saul currently lives and works in New York City and upstate New York.