The Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation is pleased to announce that in 2019 the Richard Pousette-Dart House & Studio, in Suffern, NY was added to New York State and National Registries of Historic Places. This load-bearing stone dwelling, which served as the home and studio for Pousette-Dart from 1959 until his death in 1992, was erected ca.1916 as the carriage house and chauffeur’s quarters of Valley Head Farm, a large country estate developed by New York City merchant Henry Potter McKenney. The house and accompanying greenhouse exhibit Arts & Crafts and Neoclassical features popular during the era, and today preserve one of the few extant first-generation Abstract Expressionist artists’ studios. The property is now home to the Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation, which operates a research center on the site.
Richard Pousette-Dart lived and worked in New York City during the 1940s, and relocated with his family to Rockland County, NY in 1951, shortly after the publication of the now-famous Irascibles feature in Life magazine. Initially residing in nearby Sloatsburg and Monsey, the Pousette-Darts purchased the present property in December, 1958 at the encouragement of Betty Parsons, Richard’s long-time dealer. The expansive, light-filled upper-level studio proved ideal for creating the large-scale works on canvas for which the artist is recognized today, and the property served as a rural destination for close friends and students from New York City and Rockland County. Pousette-Dart’s life-long interests in a wide range of artistic mediums – painting, sculpture, photography, drawing – as well as in natural history and mechanical gadgetry, ensured that the studio maintained a dense and fascinating aura as a Wunderkammer, of sorts. Six years after his death, the exhibition Richard Pousette-Dart: The Studio Within, curated by Adam Weinberg at the Whitney Museum of American Art, publicly celebrated the unique nature of this working environment.
Integral to the historic designation of the Richard Pousette-Dart House & Studio are its rural setting and natural surrounds, which offered numerous points of engagement for the artist. Pousette-Dart once noted that, “all art that is meaningful seems to be both of nature and abstraction inseparably interwoven.” Accordingly, the play of light upon the water of the Mahwah River that courses behind the studio, the contours of the rugged expanses of the nearby Ramapo Mountains, and the dense and varied flora along nearby walking trails directly impacted his mature artistic orientation. In works like Ramapo Sky, a fine application of built-up points of colorful paint layered evenly across the canvas captures the brilliance of crepuscular light over the local horizon. Recognition of The Pousette-Dart House and Studio Designation by State & National Registers of Historic Places underscores the importance of the property to several generations of owners of Valley Head Farm, and fortifies a commitment to preserve the rural character of this and other nearby historic sites against a tide of rapid development. Per the office of the governor, "Adding these properties to the State and National Registers of Historic Places would ensure they have the funding they need so we can protect, preserve and promote them in all of their full glory for present and future generations of New Yorkers."
Richard Pousette-Dart House & Studio