McArthur Binion (b. 1946 Macon, MS; lives and works in Chicago, IL) creates highly personal and labor-intensive works that assert his unique position between minimalism, identity politics, and abstraction. Binion employs elemental materials such as oil stick, ink, and graphite to create a dense interlacing grid on the surface of his paintings. This hand-made geometry is applied to a ground layer of neatly tiled images—reproductions of personal photos and documents—that offer glimpses in to the artist’s life: his birth certificate from Mississippi that designates him “colored,” the farm house where he was born, a passport-sized self-portrait, or an address book capturing his formative years in New York among contemporaries Brice Marden, Dan Flavin, and Jack Whitten. Binion’s use of these visuals belie his abstract gridded composition, disseminating intimate details of his personal history, while also staking a firm position within the history of Black Abstraction. Highly influenced by poetry and bebop jazz, McArthur Binion swings between improvisation and order, abstraction and biography. His works refuse easy categorization, continuously shifting between a critique and an acceptance of the minimalist aesthetic, ultimately rooting the works in an individual dedication to the process of painting.
Binion received his BFA from Wayne State University in 1971, and his MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1973. His work has been the subject of major solo and group exhibitions at institutions including the Museo Novecento, Florence, Italy (forthcoming); Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA (2019); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (2019); Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2018); McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX (2018); Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI (2018); Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MI (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, CA (2017); New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA (2017); National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC (2017); Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (2016); Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX (2012).
Binion’s work can be found in numerous public and private collections including the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Winter Park, FL; Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH; Art Bridges Foundation; Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Joyner Giuffrida Collection; Kemper Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS; Mott-Warsh Collection, Flint, MI; National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA; Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Strauss Family Foundation Collection, Rancho Santa Fe, CA; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH; Wayne State University, Detroit, MI; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.