Towards the end of his five-decade spanning oeuvre, which he began as a figurative painter of religious themes, Stephen Greene increasingly began to explore the language of abstraction. Over time, he had established a deeply personal symbolism, in which dynamic fields of color and expressive lines are fused with fragments reminiscent of plant life and bone structures. Two of the most prominent series of the 1980s are entitled “Expulsion” and “Gardens of the Night.” They reflect Greene’s early interest in religious subjects, while embedding them in mysterious non-objectivity. Addressing his abstract work, Greene noted:
“I have always wanted to achieve a profoundly moving image, to make of paint and canvas a visual fact worth dealing with on many levels. Art does set up a particular world and the one that suits my vision of what I see, know, deals with the dark side of experience as well as its enchantment and pleasures. In art, our hopes and desires shape our visions of fulfillment for more than the actual experiences that we may have. My use of color and light that is mysterious is of an interior perception. My formal stance is very much involved with an underlying structure that is insistent to the life of the work. I remain subject ridden and how a vertical divides the space from top to bottom, from my earliest works to the present, is as much subject matter as overt reference to the known world. I prefer to make paintings that are sufficiently individual to be granted their own place.” (S.G., Valley Cottage, New York, 1999)
Stephen Greene’s work is part of such important collections as those of the The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York; The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn; The Art Institute of Chicago; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Detroit Institute of Arts; Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, MA; Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena; Tate Gallery, London, England; amongst many others.