Larry Poons was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1937 and grew up in New York. He originally studied music in Boston, attending the New England Conservatory of Music from 1955-1957. During the late 1950s, he shifted his focus to painting, enrolling at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. His first solo exhibition was in 1963 at Richard Bellamy’s famed Green Gallery. Poons gained favor during the 1960s within the OpArt movement, painting rhythmic patterns of circles and ovals on brightly colored backgrounds. His work was included in MoMA’s celebrated exhibition, The Responsive Eye, alongside Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly and Victor Vasarely. In 1969, Poons was the youngest artist featured in curator Henry Geldzahler’s landmark survey, New York Painting and Sculpture, 1940-1970. That same year, he was also featured in the Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting held at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the 31st Biennial Exhibition, held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. By the mid sixties, however, he had moved away from the OpArt style, toward looser and more abstract works, experimenting with pouring and throwing paint.
In Poons’ recent works, traces of his musical training can be detected– symphonies of color race across the surfaces of his canvases, bewildering the senses. There is an intense exchange happening on these surfaces, between painter and paint, paint and light, light and color. According to Poons, “They are all in the nature of the thing … of anything … of everything.” As Robert Pincus-Witten observed, accumulating "freshly-made gestures or suddenly-discovered past ones, Poons instrumentalizes chance (the very hallmark of Abstract Expressionist painting) as he moves along the canvas.…the painting oscillates back and forth from the local to the universal.”
The work of Larry Poons is included in major museum and private collections throughout the United States and abroad including the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Tate Gallery, London; Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands; Chicago Art Institute; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; and the Yale University Art Gallery.. He currently lives and works in New York.