Born in Ukraine in 1917, Milton Resnick immigrated to New York City with his family in 1923. In the 1930s he met Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, John Graham, and other downtown artists while working on the WPA Art Project, a federal program established to combat unemployment during the Great Depression. After serving in the US Army in World War II, Resnick returned to New York in September 1945 and immediately began painting abstractions, securing his position as a first-generation American Abstract Expressionist. He was a founding member of the Artists’ Club, a famous meeting place for intellectuals and luminaries in the 1950s.
In 1961 Resnick married Pat Passlof, a pupil of de Kooning, and in the 1970s they participated together in an art residency in Roswell, New Mexico. The work Resnick produced during that time earned him critical acclaim and his reputation surged. Over his long career, Resnick painted works that gave the impression of allover monochromatic fields, although in fact they include a myriad of hues. Through the 1970s and 1980s his paint application became increasingly dense and his palette generally darkened, resulting in canvases of subtle, almost topographical presence.
The muscular impasto reddish-green surface of Roswell #4 evokes a sense of the organic. The application of paint in short, heavy dabs and in every direction creates a dappled effect in this “overall” monumental composition. In an interview, the artist claimed that “there is nothing physical” about what he does – all he does is “breathe” onto the canvas. Interested in the balance between art and its viewer, Resnick sought an intimate relationship with his audience, inviting us to breathe with him.