Max Estenger American, b. 1963

Max Estenger received his M.F.A. from the University of California, San Diego. He has been living and working in New York City since 1988.
For the past three decades, Max Estenger has been developing new possibilities for abstraction. Utilizing a rigorous formal language as the driving force, his painted objects are involved in conversation with art history and the ongoing dialogue with the various parameters of abstract painting—formal, material and ideological. Estenger’s work brings together a visual clarity, integrity and moral dimension with a tough-minded tenacity fusing a serious study of direct experience with aesthetic gratification.


Estenger’s minesdisparate materials—raw canvas, stainless steel, clear vinyl and wood panels—to create multi-paneled works. The resulting interplay of surface, structure and color refine certain aspects of his practice while celebrating paint and color as never before in his work. Polarities such as hard/soft, opaque/transparent, painted/unpainted, matte/glossy, inside/outside, actual/virtual, etc. abound and become the content of the work.


Like ‘the simple expression of complex thought,’ as the minimalist Donald Judd once said, Estenger takes on not only the compounding history of minimalism and hard-edge abstraction, but also its serialization and ubiquitous past. This is cutting-edge painting for the 21st Century.


 "I have always thought that abstraction was as epochal as Renaissance illusionism and if that tradition could last 500 years or so, abstraction could yield at least 200 years. We are in abstraction’s second century and I see no reason why interesting, fresh, and inventive work can’t still come from what started in 1912.”
–Max Estenger in conversation with Matthew Deleget 2017


His most recent exhibition was a group of new paintings at Norte Maar in 2017, which came after his mid-career survey at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson AZ in 2016 curated by Jocko Weyland. Fully-illustrated catalogues were published on both occasions. His work was recently acquired and exhibited for the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego in 2016.