Learn / Create

Spencer Sweeney: Perfect

Party Paintings
Abstract Reclining Figures
Scavenger Hunt

Greenwich May 10th, 2022

Activity worksheets inspired by Spencer Sweeney’s exhibition PERFECT, at The Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, CT.

Known for his psychologically rich figurative paintings, and collaborations with various musicians, performers, and artists in the downtown New York City art scene throughout his career, this exhibition traces Sweeney’s robust practice over the past 15 years in three parts.

About Spencer Sweeney

Spencer Sweeney was born in 1973 in Philadelphia, and lives and works in New York. Collections include the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and Museum of Modern Art, New York. Group exhibitions include the Whitney Biennial, New York (2006); and That Was Then, This Is Now, MoMA PS1, New York (2008). Performances include Hey, You Never Know (curated by Carol Greene and Kenny Schachter), 534 LaGuardia Place, New York (1998); and CrissCross: Some Young New Yorkers III, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (1999). In 2015, Kitto-San published Spencer Sweeney, a retrospective monograph featuring interviews with fellow artists and other figures from Sweeney’s diverse cultural circles.


Spencer Sweeney opened his music venue, Santa’s Party House, in 2008 and the Party Paintings were created as promotional materials for the various events that he would host there. Santa’s was flowing with different creative channels – music, visual art, light, and social interaction. Sweeney compares the venue to living sculpture with curated multi-sensory environments. Sweeney paints these works in a very energetic way, showing the liveliness and excitement of music and the bond it creates between different people. Time to create your own Party Painting!


“I think there is a power in self-portraiture. Any self-portrait, no matter how successfully or not it’s executed, will have a power to it. Sometimes it’s powerful because the artist is in control of how they present themselves, but often it can be powerful because the artist is not fully in control of how they present themselves, no matter how hard they are trying. It’s almost as if when you sit down to record your own image another force takes over.” – Spencer Sweeney


In these musings on the classical motif, Sweeney distills the figure down to its essence, conveyed through shape, hue, and line. Monochromatic paintings such as Before Behind (2019) and Moonlit Lady (2012) create a bold feminine figure in outline and emphasize a lyrical playfulness. Improvisations such as Woman with Metronome (2019) is an exploration in the boundaries of abstraction and form.


Complete the scavenger hunt by taking a closer look at Spencer Sweeney’s exhibition, PERFECT, at The Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, CT.