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'Tony DeLap and His Circle' at Parrasch Heijnen

“Tony DeLap is one of the most original figures to emerge in the sixties and he continues to push the tradition of geometric abstraction into the future.”


Barbara Rose, Now You See It, Now You Don’t, 2014


Parrasch Heijnen is pleased to present "Tony DeLap and his Circle," a scholarly view of DeLap's six-decade long career marked by the sustained and wide-ranging impact he and his oeuvre have had on generations of artists. This exhibition includes works by: Peter Alexander, Bas Jan Ader, Vija Celmins, Roy De Forest, Tony DeLap, Marcia Hafif, Donald Judd, Craig Kauffman, Agnes Martin, John McCracken, John McLaughlin, Bruce Nauman, Deborah Remington, Alexis Smith, and Frank Stella. 

We developed this exhibition with concerted cooperation and curatorial assistance from both the Estate of Tony DeLap and DeLap's longtime friend, the noted art historian Barbara Rose (b. 1936-d. 2020). Rose promoted DeLap's work and wrote the lead essay for his 2014 monograph (pub. Radius Books). Her input on this project prior to her death in December 2020 was invaluable, as she and the gallery jointly sought to develop a greater global understanding of DeLap's work and his lasting influence. This presentation is produced in celebration and recognition of Rose's scholarship on and friendship with DeLap.

Tony DeLap (b. 1927, Oakland, CA; d. 2019, Newport Beach, CA) was a pivotal figure on the West Coast. His relationships with innumerable artists over the course of his career are key in comprehending the development of the region's art scene and, by extension, this vibrant period of art history as a whole. 

Over the course of his career DeLap exhibited extensively, emerging with a four person-show in 1962 at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art with Agnes Martin–who became an admirer and friend. DeLap had a breakout solo exhibition at San Francisco’s Dilexi Gallery in 1963 (with later exhibitions in 1967 and 1968). Following an introduction to New York art dealer Robert Elkon by Martin, who was their mutual friend, DeLap began showing with Elkon Gallery on the Upper East Side in 1965, mounting ten exhibitions there over the course of 19 years. DeLap went on to be represented by Nicholas Wilder Gallery in Los Angeles with solo exhibitions in 1972, 1974, and 1976.

DeLap was appointed as Instructor of Fine Art and Design at California College of Arts and Crafts (1961-64) and then as Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at the University of California, Davis (1964-65), where he taught and mentored John McCracken (CAC) and Bruce Nauman (UCD). Immediately after, DeLap was recruited by Artforum cofounder John Coplans to join the new art department at University of California, Irvine as a founding faculty member. He remained at UCI through 1991, teaching alongside Larry Bell, Vija Celmins, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, and Barbara Rose. Over the course of nearly three decades, DeLap encouraged and mentored student artists such as Bas Jan Ader, Chris Burden, Marcia Hafif, Barbara T. Smith, Alexis Smith–who would perform magic and sleight-of-hand with DeLap–and James Turrell, among others. DeLap befriended artists Roy De Forest and Deborah Remington while living in the Bay Area; John McLaughlin, who lived and worked in Orange County's Dana Point, was a dear friend and mentor to DeLap, as well as fellow sculptor-painter Frank Stella, during his time in Southern California.

DeLap's career belies definition by one particular movement or style. Scholars have variously described him as a Minimalist, an op-artist, a hard-edge painter, and a California Light and Space artist. Despite this, Rose viewed DeLap's work as discernibly logical. As Rose observed, “DeLap is an intuitive, intellectually curious experimenter rather than a conceptual, goal-oriented strategist, which means the outcome of his process is always a surprise."  His paintings seem to play on the medium in their viscosity, bordering sculpture yet, his works in the round are imbued with illusion that is not necessarily parallel to that of his painting. 

In his seminal 1965 essay ‘Specific Objects,’ Donald Judd discusses DeLap’s work as exemplifying the tendency among artists in the 1960s to work in the space between painting and sculpture. DeLap’s wide ranging studio practice made evident that new territory was indeed accessible. As a mentor and an innovator, he effectively represented a generation of California artists who were moving away from spiritual abstraction to conceptual, cerebral practices. While the breadth of DeLap's impact was broad, this exhibition shares a focused selection of artists' works emphasizing the aesthetic diversity of DeLap's influence.

He was included in such landmark exhibitions as The Responsive Eye, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1965, and Primary Structures, the Jewish Museum, New York, 1966. DeLap’s work resides in the permanent collections of the Tate Modern, London, UK; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, NY; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; City of Fujinomiya, Japan; and Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland, among many others.

This exhibition was realized in cooperation with Meliksetian | Briggs, Los Angeles and the Deborah Remington Charitable Trust for the Visual Arts.

Tony DeLap and His Circle will be on view at Parrasch Heijnen, 1326 S. Boyle Avenue, Los Angeles, from April 9 - May 19, 2022. Due to Covid-19, proper face coverings and social distancing are currently required while inside. Gallery staff are available to guide you through our exhibitions virtually via Zoom upon request. A 360º VR Tour can be found on our website to view from your desktop computer or mobile device. For more information, please contact the gallery at +1 (323) 943-9373 or

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