Home Artists Susan Moss

Susan Moss

1944
United States

2 Works exhibited on Kooness

Represented by

Works by Susan Moss

Earthslide 528

2020

152.4 x 106.68cm

Earthslide 565

2021

152 x 107cm

Susan Moss’ emotionally charged yet lyrical paintings attest to her strength, precise control of color and depth, and her maverick originality. In the words of a liquor-store thief who stole Black Forest VII, (fortunately returned to the artist for a monetary award), “She really spilled out her guts on that one!” The painting was subsequently owned by Cliff and Mandy Einstein who eventually donated it to the Skirball Center’s Museum.
Reaching a nationwide audience, Moss creates intriguing and inimitable works of art. Dealing with environmental catastrophe, war and peace, and psychological issues, Moss uses a lifetime of study of mediums, color, and methods that has led her to her newest series, Peace Pieces. This series consists of large-scale canvases and drawings saturated with vibrant color and curvilinear shapes. With slashing lines, searing color, and intense energy, the paintings resonate with spiritual power, like a prayer rug.
After leaving Otis Art Institute in 1970, she rented a studio and began spraying large canvases up to ten-feet utilizing a compressor, various spray guns, and airbrushes. These “cylinder” paintings of subtle, graduated color both bulged out towards the viewer while simultaneously sucking the viewer in. Tamara Thomas from Gallery 707, which featured women artists, sold her works to many banks and businesses around the state. Her paintings even drew the attention of prominent curator Barbara Haskell, who remains a fan of her work today.
Moss quit spraying paint after developing chronic bronchitis, and after a six-month interval when she could not paint at all, she began staining canvases with diluted acrylic paint. This series, called Soft-Hard-Edge, was widely collected through art consultant Lonny Gans. However, Moss grew frustrated with long drying times and flat surfaces that the medium offered. She began to experiment with acrylic paint mixed with Rhoplex, an acrylic binder, which she ordered in large drums to do commissioned works such as four ten-foot paintings for the newly built Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. This medium allowed her to work in a heavy impasto while also being transparent. She also began doing her own experimental paintings, which she showed at the David Findlay Jr. Gallery, located on Madison Avenue in New York City. The show was critically acclaimed and sold out to prestigious collectors like Lisa Dennison, who became the Director of the Guggenheim Museum.
Chief Curator of the Museum of Modern Art, John Elderfield, also saw her show and subsequently visited her at her studio. Other visitors to her studio include Jack Tworkov, Richard Diebenkorn, Chuck Arnoldi, Victor Henderson, Robert A. Rowan (who became her patron), and Stephanie Barron (Chief Curator of Modern Art at LACMA).
Her Black Forest series is perhaps her most well-known works done in acrylic and Rhoplex. Consisting of seventeen paintings, this series is dedicated to her grandparents Edith and Richard Hecht, who died of starvation in the Bergen-Belson Concentration Camp in Germany. Unfortunately, after completing this series, Moss was diagnosed with borderline cancer and had to discontinue using the medium. Vertical blocks of bold, aggressive color contrasted with light, transparent areas and extruding lines, these remarkable paintings quickly sold out to top collectors. However, Moss became so ill that she could no longer use any paint at all.
She turned to her drawings, previously known only to her as studies and sketches for her paintings. She began creating with oil crayons and special rag paper, blowing up her sketchbook notations into large-scale Earthslide drawings. After a year, she showed these drawings at the Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo, New York. She has continued to create these psychologically and environmentally charged drawings, which have grown ever more complex in the passing years.
Moss’ many health challenges have caused her to switch mediums through the years, though never letting her creative force flag. In the nineties, she contracted breast and uterine cancer, and used herself as a human guinea-pig to explore natural healing. When it was successful, she wrote two books about the Marathon Olympic Tumor Eradication Program she utilized to get well: Keep Your Breasts! and Survive Cancer!, both international bestsellers. She has traveled the globe, lecturing on the natural approach to healing cancer of all types and appearing on international radio and TV news shows. She remains healthy today, twenty-one years later.
Moss’ true love of color is expressed in her most recent Peace Pieces series, created in a vibrant, varied palette with this new paint, often mixing colors that commonly clash to create harmony out of warring hues. A brilliant colorist, she was lauded by her professors at Otis for her keen eye. Moss says, “Color is a language of its own. Colors speak to each other. Exploring color is an exciting journey. Color brings emotion, depth, and vibrancy
to the canvas.” Her new series features swooping, layered lines of intense, vivid colors. “Color comes first, then the theme follows,” she reveals about her working method. “Think and dream in color, envelope yourself in color, and you will radiate life!”
Working in a large-scale format, she feels both she and the viewer can truly delve into a large canvas. Moss cites William Mallord Turner, 19th Century English painter, as her biggest influence. She says that Turner’s atmospheric paintings resonate with her and even spent most of a trip to England in 1979 studying Turner watercolors at the British Museum library.
Other influences include Henry Matisse, Claude Monet, Josef Albers, Helen Frankenthaler, and Frank Stella, as well as Los Angeles artists Ed Moses and Chuck Arnoldi. Her surroundings also provide inspiration, saying: “I’m very influenced by L.A. and the environment that surrounds us. I think we’re very blessed to have this semi-tropical environment with all the green and trees and flowers and sky, with its stunning sunsets and atmosphere. It’s just a magnificent place to be a painter.”