Though McArthur Binion’s over 40-year investigation of abstract painting has been continual, his work was not widely seen until several years ago. In the 1970s, Binion lived in New York City and was loosely part of a group of African American painters who, despite the pressures to make artwork that was politically motivated, devoted themselves to abstraction. Binion’s distinctive insertion of narrative and personal history and his emphasis on content, differentiated his work from the more reductive Minimalist practices of other artists and continues to do so today. His DNA series uses copies of his birth certificate and pages from his New York address book, which are physically laid down as the self-described “under conscious” of the paintings, on which he applies multiple layers of paint stick in vertical and horizontal strokes, combining biography with geometry.
Binion’s works have been featured in solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas, and the University of Maryland University College Gallery as well as group exhibitions at Prospect.3, Louisiana; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Missouri. His works are in major public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.; Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; and Studio Museum in Harlem, New York.
Binion was born in Macon, Mississippi, in 1946. He currently lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.