Contemporary artist Joe Andoe (b. 1955) was born and came of age in Tulsa, surrounded by churches, trees, highways, and horses, motifs that recur in his paintings and prints. At the University of Oklahoma, where he completed an MFA in 1981, he eschewed the colorful, vertical abstractions popular in the art department at the time. Instead, he painted a 45-foot-long black landscape for his thesis project. For Andoe, the canvas, lit by fluctuating light filtered through the Lightwell Gallery’s skylights, was not a representation so much as “the thing itself.” Following graduation, Andoe moved to New York, where he earned his first solo exhibition in 1986. His work is held in private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. His work has been exhibited in Japan, Finland, Italy, and throughout the United States.
Andoe considers himself a painter of landscapes and of things that inhabit the land. The distant horizon—perhaps a reference to the artist’s east Tulsa roots, or to his treks through Texas and Wyoming as a young man—is ever present in his work. It appears in roadside photographs of Oklahoma City made in 1977. In later paintings, horses graze against it, illuminated as if by penumbral light. Oak leaves alternately fall beneath or rise above it. Birds, trumpets, and letterforms float over it. On one hand, the quiet drama of these images reflects the artist’s interest in “the stillness at twilight when animals come out into the open.” And yet, the horizon’s subtle omnipresence behind the objects and creatures that populate Andoe’s often stark, monochromatic images fosters contemplation and a sobering awe at the transience of life.
Joe Andoe (U.S., b. 1955)
Untitled (Oak Leaves), 1995
Oil on paper, 22 1/4 x 25 in.
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
The University of Oklahoma, Norman
Gift of Scot Andoe, 2001