Larry Holmes: High Watermark on the Teepees

July 2, 2014

High Watermark on the Teepees, 1973. Larry Holmes (born 1942). Acrylic on shaped canvas, 72 x 72 x 4 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2014. © Larry Holmes.

Larry Holmes (born 1942) has been an active member of the regional art community since settling in Delaware in the early 1970s. Holmes received his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Science degrees from Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1973. Later that year, Holmes joined the faculty of the University of Delaware where he served as the Chair of the Department of Art from 1982 to 1992 and taught painting until retiring in 2004. Throughout his career, Holmes participated in numerous annual shows at the Delaware Art Museum and was the subject of a solo exhibition in 1984. This year, the artist generously offered the Museum his 1973 painting High Watermark on the Teepees, the first work by Holmes to enter the collection.

The bright, centrally oriented composition of High Watermark on the Teepees is representative of Holmes’ constructed relief paintings from the early 1970s. Assembled from plywood substructures and covered with stretched canvas, the forms recall experimentations associated with 1960s Minimalism and hard-edge painting. Holmes activates his abstract constructions with a seductive, undulating surface that calls into play the artist’s interest in exploring the concept of space in painting. Pattern continued to occupy the artist’s subject matter into the early 1980s when he began layering designs based on natural forms. These gradually began to take on figurative qualities, and in 1983, the artist made a shift into representation. Arranging flora, fauna, masks, and statuary over elaborate mosaics, Holmes continues to investigate the underlying structure of patterning and the tension between physical and illusionistic space in painting.

See more of Larry Holmes’ work online at and look for High Watermark on the Teepees in the Museum’s contemporary art gallery, Gallery 17, through mid-2015.

Margaret Winslow
Associate Curator for Contemporary Art

This Curator Corner was posted on July 2, 2014.

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