Throughout his illustrious career, John Perreault was always an explorer. As a poet, artist, performer, curator, museum director, composer, teacher, and most notably as an art critic, he never shied away from anything in the art world. He always seemed to push the boundaries, and his practice as a painter and sculptor were no exception.
Perreault knew his art history inside and out, and was able to distill all that he had observed into conceptually vibrant works. His output knew no bounds and he ventured into a plethora of untraditional media and styles. He broke rocks and mended them back together; he re-purposed thrift store artworks and painted on top of them; he taped, wrapped and stacked store-bought canvases still in their cellophane wrappers; he bound two wheelbarrows with fishing line; he used sand, toothpaste, instant coffee grounds; and painted/performed drip paintings unlike any others. And all of these innovative explorations fostered profound insight into visual phenomena with often hilarious connotations.
Perreault told Art Experience NYC in 2011 that “making artworks is more like philosophical investigations, art criticism or yoga.”
Born in Manhattan, John Perreault (1937-2015) first showed his paintings at Greenwich Village’s One Eleven Gallery in the mid-1960s. He simultaneously broke ground in the fields of conceptual and performance art, appearing at the Whitney Museum, K. K. Projects (New Orleans), and Hunter College, among other venues. Over the years, Perreault exhibited nationally and internationally at spaces including the Naguchi Museum, the New Museum, Wallace Gallery (SUNY), Grey Art Gallery (NY), Seattle Museum of Art, and Sharjah Art Museum (United Arab Emirates). He was Chief Art Critic at the Village Voice from 1966-1974, followed by Senior Art Critic at the Soho News from 1975-1982. In 1979 Perreault won a National Endowment for the Arts Award for Art Criticism; and later, in 2002 won a Penny McCall Foundation Award for his invaluable contribution to the art world. From 1990-1993 he was Senior Curator at the American Craft Museum (NY); from 1995-2002 he was Executive Director at Urban Glass (NY); and from 1996-2015 he was a Trustee of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation. Recent press includes Andrew Goldstein’s review on Artnet news and RC Baker’s review in the Village Voice, both on Perreault’s Solo Tribute Survey “It’s Only Art” at MARQUEE PROJECTS, July, 2017.