Born in Bratslav, Ukraine in 1917, Resnick immigrated to the United States with his family in 1922. In 1933, he transferred from Pratt, where he studied commercial art, to the American Artists School in order to focus on painting; he graduated in 1937. A first generation New York School painter, Resnick maintained friendships with Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning. While his early work reflected the tenets of Abstract Expressionism, Resnick ultimately eclipsed more traditional notions of the genre. His transition from explicitly Abstract Expressionist modes to the dense and heavily impastoed monochrome canvases of his later years resulted from an intensive exploration of paint’s materiality and the subsequent dissolution of form and “image.” Resnick’s allegiance to the physical properties of paint, its viscosity and “actuality,” was in turn predictive of younger painters like Cy Twombly, Robert Ryman and Frank Stella, and anticipated artistic movements concerned with process, materiality, and perception.
Resnick strived to distill abstraction to its essence, championing an “all-over” approach to the canvas and refusing prescribed “meaning.” Though seemingly impenetrable, his work achieves visceral duality. Often characterized by their massive size, the paintings intentionally remain within the viewer’s peripheral vision: they are meant to locate one in space and, more significantly, at a place. Unyielding surfaces become reflective, almost luminous. The effect of time, or rather the aspiration to timelessness, is apparent: the paintings seem to hover in a constant state of “becoming.” For the patient viewer, Resnick’s work is transcendent. He stated: “Art is not a learning process. It is the very reverse of learning. It is the unhinging of your soul from your sight.”
Resnick died March 12, 2004. Roberta Smith, for his New York Times obituary, wrote: “Mr. Resnick might qualify as the last Abstract Expressionist painter.” Widely shown, his work is represented in many American and international collections, including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio; the National Gallery, Ottawa, Canada; the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia; the Malmö Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden; and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas, among many others. Recent exhibitions include solo shows at Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco (2012) and Cheim & Read, New York (2011), and group shows at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisz and Fundacion Caja, Madrid (2010), and the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow (2008), among others.