Born Lawrence Poons, in Japan in 1937, the artist moved to the United States of America with his family in 1940. After school Poons entered the New England Conservatory of Music, but turned increasingly to painting as an outlet for his creativity. In 1957 he became a student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, but soon went to New York where he became friends with Barnett Newman; the older painter provided Poons with encouragement and support.
In 1962 Poons painted his first Op art ‘dot painting’, a style that he explored throughout the 1960s. His first solo show was held in 1963 at the Green Gallery in New York and, over the next few years, he attracted increasing attention, which saw him heralded as the successor to Mondrian. In the late 1960s Poons began to experiment with pouring paint onto canvases on the floor, a significant departure from his previous precise, analytical works. Preferring the effect achieved by throwing paint at canvasses tacked to the wall, Poons created individual cascade motifs as well as working with entire rolls of canvas, the surface of which was covered with paint, thickly intertwined but always with the gravitational impetus of the cascading paint. He then cut the canvas into individual paintings after careful observation of the natural compositions that had formed. The act of throwing paint brings Poons’ work into the realms of Lyrical Abstraction, a movement that began in the late 1960s and was marked by a return to passionate and painterly expression, in rebellion against the formal constraints of Pop, Conceptual and Minimalist art.
For over a decade Poons continued to work at coming to terms with paint itself and the evocation of ideas and experience through an abstract and painterly approach. By the early 1980s, his technique had evolved and he began using acrylic gel and other materials, such as Styrofoam, to create a textured base, over which he then built up layers of paint. Having changed his working name from Larry back to Lawrence Poons in 1982, the artist continues to work and to evolve stylistically. He teaches at the Art Students League and currently lives in New York.