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Chronology: Robert Zakanitch

Born May 24, 1935, in Elizabeth, New Jersey to Mary Warga Zakanych and Andrew Zakanych; he is the youngest of three boys. Lives in Northern New Jersey (Rahway and Linden) until entering the US Army in 1958.

Attends Linden High School, graduates in June 1953.

Works in Aborn’s Coffee Factory for a year following graduation from high school.

Fall, enrolls in Newark School of Fine And Industrial Arts for a three-year program in commercial art. Studies calligraphy, anatomy, scientific color, perspective, “creative thinking.” Important teachers were Hans Beckmann and Ben Cunningham.

First museum visit, a bus trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Graduates from NSFIA (a non-degree program).

Works as a commercial artist at Ed Moran’s Studios, New York.

April, drafted into the US Army. Stationed at Fort Knox, Louisville, Kentucky. Rank: Specialist, 3rd Class. Works in Special Services, painting posters, organizing entertainment and special events.

April, leaves the army, returns to working in advertising in New York.

Gets a full time job at D’Arcy Advertising Corporation, New York; lives on Central Park West and 70th Street. While at D’Arcy, meets William Monaghan who introduces him to New York’s art galleries and encourages him to paint. He begins painting at night, and frequently visits Janis, Kootz, and Stable galleries. Looks at work of the Abstract Expressionists, particularly James Brooks, Philip Guston, Franz Kline, and Willem de Kooning.

December 4: “New Paintings by Franz Kline,” opens at the Sidney Janis Gallery. The exhibition makes a big impression on Zakanitch.

Encourages by Monaghan, leaves advertising to paint full time. Works in an Abstract Expressionist style.

Moves to the Lower East Side, lives on Sixth Street between Avenues B and C until 1964. Supports himself by taking odd jobs doing paste-ups and mechanical drawings.

Meets Ginny Carteaux, an artist, and through her, Bob Huot, Doug Ohlson, and the poet Jack Aqueros.

Summer: Drives with a friend across the United States through Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and spends two weeks in San Francisco. Returns to New York via the Mojave Desert to Nevada, Arizona (sees the Grand Canyon), New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

His father dies.

Summer, travels through the South by bus and hitchhiking. Visits Florida, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Moves to 122 West 29th Street, where he lives until 1969.

He paints in a “surrealistic,” highly personal manner, which continues until 1966.

July, his mother dies.

First one-person exhibition at Henri Gallery, Alexandria, Virginia, includes his “surrealistic” work.

Reads art history texts on Impressionism, Cubism, Futurism, and Dadaism; Art and Culture by Clement Greenberg; The New Art by Gregory Battcock (especially the essays by Dore Ashton and Clement Greenberg). Begins to read art journals, particularly Artforum. Talks at this time with Scott Burton, Ron Gorchov, Bob Huot, Jane Kaufman, Doug Ohlso. This period marks the beginning of his interest in “Formalism” as an aesthetic philosophy.

Begins circle paintings which continue until 1969.

Meets Samuel Adams Green at the Whitney Annual. Green assists him with his career.

Switches from oil to acrylic paint.

Is included in the following group exhibition:
“December 13, 1967-February 4, 1968, “Whitney Annual,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Meets Patsy Norvell.

Reads books on witchcraft and mysticism, particularly Diary of a Witch, by Sybil Leek, which he still considers important. Also reads other authors, e.g. Gertrude Stein.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Chicago acquire three paintings.

March 2-22, one-person exhibition at Stable Gallery, New York, includes circle paintings.

Is included in the following group exhibitions:
“New Art USA – Baroque-Minimal,” Modern Art Museum, Munich, Germany.
November 13-January 21, 1969, “The Pure and the Clear: American Innovations, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
December 17-January 1969, “Whitney Annual,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Moves to 18 Warren Street.

Begins summer trips to La Jolla, California, which continue through 1971. Stays with sculptor Michael Todd and with Ginny Carteaux in Los Angeles.

Begins hexagon paintings, which he works on for approximately six months.

October, begins multi-panel paintings, comprised of vertical or horizontal abutting panels of close-valued color.

The Whitney Museum of American Art acquires Towards Humming (1969).

Is included in the following group exhibitions:
March 2-April 6, “Contemporary American Painting and Sculpture,” Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.
December 16-February 1, 1970, “Whitney Annual,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Meets Clement Greenberg at the home of Sidney Phillips, a mutual friend. They do not discuss painting.

Late in the year, starts to work on large, single-unit canvases, leaving edges and parts of ground white. Surfaces painted without tape.

March 15-April 15, one-person exhibition at Reese Palley Gallery, New York, includes multi-panel paintings.

Included in the following group exhibitions:
April 5-June 7, “Lyrical Abstraction,” Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut.
June 9-July 19, “Recent Acquisitions,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
June 21-September 13, “Highlights of the 1969-1970 Season,” Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut.
August 15-November 11, “3 Internazionale der Zeichnung,” Mathildenhohe, Darmstadt, Germany.

Meets Miriam Schapiro in La Jolla, CA.

Lectures at Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, acquires Double Violet (1970).

The Phoenix Museum of Art, Phoenix, AZ, acquires Roseout (1969).

November 6-27, one-person exhibition at Reese Palley Gallery, New York, includes single-panel works.

Included in the following group exhibitions:
January 25-April 18, “The Structure of Color,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
March 13-April 11, “Beaux-Arts 25th Anniversary Exhibition,” Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Columbus, OH.
March 16-April 17, “Intimate Selections of the American Spirit I,” Willard Gallery, New York, NY
“Lyrical Abstraction,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. 
May 27-June 16, “Recent Acquisitions,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
December 6-30, “Aspects of Current Painting—New York: Berthot, Bhavsar, Marden, Salt, Shields, Zakanych,” Art Gallery, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY.
“New York Painting,” J.S. Hudson Gallery, Detroit, MI.

Year of critical stylistic changes in his work. Begins using templates and stencils to apply “shapes” in an allover fashion.

Paints first consciously referential work, Bird/Mountain/Sky, inspired in part by an announcement for an exhibition of Joel Shapiro’s work at Paula Cooper Gallery in January 1972. After this work, however, he returns to nonspecific, abstract images, and continues to incorporate all-over shapes.

Included in the following group exhibitions:
April 26-June 4, “Painting and Sculpture Today,” Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN.
May 6-June 4, “New American Abstract Painting,” Madison Art Center, Madison, WI.
May 16-June 25, “32th Annual Exhibition: Contemporary Works of Art,” Society for Contemporary Art of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
October 1-November 1, “New American Abstract Painting,” Vassar College Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, New York.
November 11-December 5, Untitled group exhibition, Cuningham Ward Gallery, New York.

Spends summer in the Hamptons at Jane Holzer’s home. Spends time with Dan Christensen, Elke Solomon, Judith Goldman, James Monte, Portia Harcus, Pat Lipsky, Michael Steiner, John Gruen, Betty Cuningham, Jane Kaufman, Larry Zox, Miriam Schapiro and Paul Brach.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art acquires Hexagon Series VI, 1968, a work on paper.

January 20-February 18, one-person exhibition at Cuningham Ward Gallery, New York, includes “shape” paintings.

Included in the following group exhibitions:
January 20-March 18, “Whitney Biennial,” The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
February 23-April 8, “The Way of Color, 33rd Biennial,” Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
April 25-May 6, “New American Abstract Painting,” Northern Illinois University’s Fine Arts Festival, DeKalb, IL.
November 27-January 23, 1974 “New York Avant Garde ’74: 28 Painters/28 Peintres,” Saidye Bronfman Center, Montreal, Canada.

Doing paintings of abstract “marks” all over the canvas. Transitional period in his career.

Summer, visits Greece and Turkey with Enid Sanford Cafritz and Clavin Cafritz.

Spring and fall, visiting artist/lecturer at the University of California, San Diego, CA.

Invited by Paul Brach to lecture on his work at the California Institute of the Arts.

November, on his way back to New York, he visits Miriam Schapiro in Los Angeles, where they talk about their work and discover mutual interests. They agree to meet back in New York with other painters who might be concerned with similar issues.

The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, acquires Greenout, 1968.

April 20-May 20, one-person exhibition at Cunningham Ward Gallery, New York, includes “marks” paintings.

Included in the following group exhibition:
September 19-November 1, “Continuing Abstraction in American Art,” Whitney Museum of American Art, Downtown Branch, New York, NY.

January, first meeting at his home of “pattern” painters. Present were Joyce Kozloff, Robert Kushner, Tony Robbin, Miriam Schapiro, Zakanych, and critic Amy Goldin.

February, second meeting at his home, called by Joyce Kozloff, further to discuss issues of “decoration.” Attending were Brad Davis, Valerie Jaudon, Robert Kushner, Kozloff, Miriam Schapiro, Kendall Shaw, Nina Yankowitz, Mario Yrissary and Zakanych.

Paints Dubarry, still abstract.

Abstract “marks” in his paintings become consciously referential during this year.

Paints Late Bloomer, a watershed work, specifically referential (floral).

No exhibitions in 1975.

October, visiting artist/lecturer at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago, Illinois.

Receives a CAPS fellowship grant for the year 1976-1977.

Lectures at the University of California, San Diego.

Does first triptych painting, For Louis Sullivan. Triptychs continue to date.

Included in the following group exhibitions:
September 25-October 19, “Ten Approaches to the Decorative,” Alessandra Gallery, New York, NY. First exhibition about “decoration”. Organized by Jane Kaufman. Included work by Valerie Jaudon, Kaufman, Joyce Kozloff, Tony Robbin, Miriam Schapiro, Arlene Slavin, George Sugarman, John Torreano, Zakanych, and Barbara Zucker.
Summer, “Group Exhibition,” Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, NY.

Changes spelling of last name from Zakanych to Zakanitch.

Spends summer in Poughkeepsie, New York; begins to live with Patsy Norvell.

Lectures at Pratt Institute, New York, and Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

Participates in panel discussion, “Decorative Painting,” with Joyce Kozloff, Valerie Jaudon, Robert Kushner, Miriam Schapiro and Amy Goldin at the College Art Association meeting, Los Angeles, California.

March 2-22, one-person exhibition at Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, includes large allover floral single canvases, diptychs, and triptychs.

Included in the following group exhibitions:
February 19-April 20, “75/76/77 Painting 75/76/77, Parts I and II,” Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY (exhibition travelled to Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, OH, August 11-September 18).
October 7-November 30, “Patterning & Decoration,” Museum of the American Foundation for the Arts, Miami, FL (exhibition traveled to Galerie Alexandra Monett, Brussels, Belgium).
October 20-November 11, “23th Annual Exhibition, Contemporary American Painting: Pattern, Grid and System Art,” Ralph Wilson Gallery, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA.
November 14-December 4, “Pattern Painting,” Institute for Art and Urban Resources at P.S. 1, Long Island City, NY Organized by John Perreault.

Lectures on his work at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

Does first print, Dragonseed, a four-color lithograph, as announcement image for his first one-person exhibition at Robert Miller Gallery, New York.

Paints Angel Feet, work with single largest image he has used to date (template approximately 3 ½ feet wide). The three part work measures overall: 94 1/4 × 172 3/8 in. (239.4 × 437.8 cm). The work is later acquired by the Whitney Museum (accession no. 91.76a-c).

March 14-April 1, one-person exhibition at Robert Miller Gallery.

September 20-October 28, one-person exhibition at Galerie Liatowitsch, Basel, Switzerland. Zakanitch travels to Zurich to attend the opening of his show, his first European trip.

Included in the following group exhibitions:
April 20-May 18, “Six Sensibilities,” Franklin Gallery, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
November 1-December 13, “Pattern and Decoration,” Sewall Art Gallery, Rice University, Houston, TX.
November 20-December 4, “Decorative Art: Recent Works,” Douglass College of Art Gallery, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.

Buys house in the Hamptons, spends summers there.

Begins Trellis series.

Begins to incorporate vegetable and fruit imagery in his work.

Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany, acquires Blue Hound (1978), and Flash (1978).

January 6-27, One-person exhibition at Robert Miller Gallery, New York.

October 12-November 8, one-person exhibition at Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne, Germany.

Included in the following group exhibitions:
January 16-March 4, “Contemporary Art Acquisitions from the Sydney and Frances Lewis Fund,” Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA.
January 19-February 18, “Pattern Painting,” Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.
January 30-March 3, “Persistent Patterns,” Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY.
March 16-June 24, “Patterns +,” Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH.
June 13-July 21, “The Decorative Impulse,” Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, June 13-July 21 (exhibition traveled to Mandeville Art Gallery, La Jolla, CA, November 1-December 9; Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, MN, January 15-February 15 1980; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, May 23-July 1980).
June 15-February 10, 1981, “The 1970s: New American Painting,” New Museum, New York, NY, June 15-February 10, 1981 (exhibition traveled to America Now Dome, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, June 15-July 14; America Now Dome, Zagreb, Yugoslavia, September; Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, October 17-November 12; Fiera della Sardegna, Cagliari, Sardinia, December 15-January 13 1980; Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Palermo, Sicily, January 23-February 15; North Jutland Art Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark, March 20-April 27; America Now Dome, Budapest, Hungary; May 30-June 28; America Now Dome, Bucharest, Romania, September 1-30; BWA Gallery, Torun, Poland, November 15-30; Gallery of Modern Art, Lodz, Poland, December 18-January 9 1981; National Museum of Art, Warsaw, Poland, January 19-February 10-1981).
October 31-December 9, “Patterns,” Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY. 
“Pattern Nouvelle Peinture Americaine,” Galerie d’Art Contemporain des Musées de Nice, France (exhibition traveled to Galerie Alexandra Monnett, Brussels, Belgium).
“New York Now,” Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ.

June, visits Zurich for three days with Patsy Norvell, then goes on to Paris and visits Monet’s garden at Giverny.

Summer, begins Sofa Series, single-panel paintings with emphasis shifted to decorative detail of top.

Begins Vamp Series, with continued emphasis on tops of paintings, growing out of Sofa Series.

Begins incorporating stylized swan motif.

Begins to work increasingly on paper, with sheet sizes as large as six or seven feet.

Does first intensive printmaking at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford, New York, culminating in exhibition at Robert Miller Gallery in 1981.

Feb 5-27, one-person exhibition at Robert Miller Gallery, New York.

June 7-July 12, one-person exhibition at Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris, France.

Oct 18-Nov 8, one-person exhibition at Bruno Bischofberger Galerie, Zurich, Switzerland. Zakanitch returns to Zurich to attend opening.

Included in the following group exhibitions:
January 5-31, “Tendences Actuelles de la Peinture Americaine,” Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris.
January 13-February 10, “Dekor,” Mannheimer Kunstverein, Mannheim, West Germany (exhibition traveles to Amerika House, Berlin, March 3-April 11; Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UK).
January 21-February 10, “Intricate Structure/Repeated Image,” Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.
February 8-March 15: “Pattern Painting/Decorative Art,” Galerie Holtman, Hanover, Germany.
“Intricate Structure/Repeated Image,” Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.
February 29-March 31, “Pattern Painters,” Wesleyan University of Illinois, Bloomington, IL.
March 10-30, “Selections from a Colorado Collection,” University of Colorado Art Galleries, Boulder, CO.
May 1-June 13, “Drawings of a Different Nature,” Portland Center for the Visual Arts, Portland, OR.
June 1-September 30, “Open 80,” 39th Venice Biennale, Magazzini del Sale alle Zattere, Venice, Italy.
June 1-September 30, “Drawings: The Pluralist Decade,” 39th Venice Biennale, United States Pavilion, Venice, Italy (exhibition traveled to Kunstforeningen Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark, October-November; Henie Onstad Museum, Onstad, Norway, December; Biblioteca Nationale, Madrid, Spain, January-March 1981; Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal).
June 16-July 6, “Decorative Fabricators,” Institute of Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum, Richmond, VA.
June 24-August 17, “Painting and Sculpture Today 1980,” Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN.
July 5-September 28, “Pattern, Nouvelle Peinture Americaine,” Galerie d’Art Contemporain des Musées de Nice, Nice, France.
August 31-December 31, “The Morton G. Neumann Family Collection, Selected Works,” National Gallery of Art, Washington DC (exhibition traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL).
October 4-November 9, “Drawings: The Pluralist Decade,” Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
October 14-November 8, “Decoration,” San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA.
December 8-February 2, 1981, “Pattern Painting/Decoration Art,” Galerie Krinzinger, Inssbruck, Austria (exhibition traveled to Modern Art Galerie, Vienna, Austria).

Continues Vamp Series, which sometimes incorporates swans as central focal point.

Continues to work on paper.

March 10-21, one-person exhibition at Robert Miller Gallery, New York, includes paper works and prints. Zakanitch’s relationship with Robert Miller Gallery continues through the late ‘80s.

May 27-June 26, one-person exhibition at James Mayor Gallery, London, UK.

June 12-Aug 9, one-person exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. First mid-career summary and first one-person museum exhibition of Zakanitch’s work (catalogue with essay by Janet Kardon).

Included in the following group exhibitions:
January 20-April 5, “Biennial Exhibition,” The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
March 7-April 2, “The Decorative Image,” McIntosh/Drysdale Gallery, Washington, DC.
“26th Annual Contemporary American Art Exhibition: 1981 Paperworks,” Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA (catalogue).
“U.S. Art Today,” Nordiska Kompaniet, Stockholm, Sweden. Traveled to Goteborgs Konstmuseum, Gothenburg, Sweden (catalogue).
“Currents,” Jacksonville Art Museum, Jacksonville, FL; traveled to SVC/Fine Arts Gallery, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL (catalogue).
“Group Exhibition,” James Mayor Gallery, London, UK.
“Pattern: Painting,” South Hill Park Arts Center, Bracknell, Berks, England.
“Horticulture,” Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York, NY.
“Aspects of Post-Modernism: Decorative and Narrative Art,” Squibb Art Gallery, Princeton, NJ.

Completes his Platter Series and Souvenir Series.

Completes and exhibits five monumental paintings titled Big Bungalow Suite (I-V). Each painting measures 11 feet high by 30 feet wide and are exhibited at the Jason McCoy Gallery that rented a ground floor storefront of a cast-iron building on Greene Street in SoHo to especially exhibit the works. Celebrating the vibrancy of painting today, Art in America devoted its entire October 1994 issue to “A Year in Painting” featuring a detail of Zakanitch’s Big Bunglaow Suite III on its cover.

Completes the Lace Paintings, which offer a return to the all-over-ness of his late 1970s Pattern Paintings.

“Arising out of sentiment for domestic beauty, the Lace Paintings create before the tragedy of 9/11 feature blue backgrounds. Later paintings in the series were grounded by black, and the lace itself became a powerful metaphor for the deeper reality: that we are all interconnected.” -John DeFazio, 2016

Completes his Aggressive Goodness Series, which features portraits of pedigree dogs.

Completes his Aggressive Endearments Series.

Completes his Charms Series, which revisit jewelry and the ambiguities of scale, while celebrating sentimentality.

“Sentimentality exposes our humaneness. Charm bracelets are signposts of moments in our lives. Each charm is so personal, it can only be deciphered by its owner.” -RZ, 200

Completes his Tureen Series, which celebrate formaily and etiquette in monumental serving pots executed in thick, sculpted paint, all filled with ideas about food for the soul, food for the mind's eye, soup for the spirit, and food that sustains our existence. The series goes on exhibit at Werkstätte, New York, NY, October 4-November 17, 2018.

Begins a new and extraordinary series of paintings titled From a Garden of Ordinary Miracles. “Spirited in form, ravishing in color, and in a new medium for large-scale painting-gouache on paper-they mark a major turn in Zakanitch’s work.” -John DeFazio, 2016

Inspired by The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which were once one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World as listed by Hellenic culture, Zakanitch completes his Hanging Garden Series. The series is exhibited at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery, May 9-June 15, 2013.

“The flowers are more intricate, and the intertwining petals and stamens [...] are almost baroque in their tapestried harmony of thick and thin shape and line [...] In a few of the works small birds or butterflies flit among the blossoms [...] All of which makes me want to say ‘How beautiful’ and actually, I do say that without reservation.” -David Frankel, Artforum, 2013

Completes his In the Garden of the Moon Series. The series is exhibited at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery, January 28-March 25, 2016.

“I want to bring romance back into painting, and in this series the timeless enchantment of the moon and the night. Night vividly reveals the immensity, that we are all part of,with stars, galaxies, and universes flowing flawlessly--all interrelated.” -RZ, 2015

A survey exhibition titled “Robert Zakanitch: Ephemeral Beauty,” opens at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS.

A major monograph titled simply Zakantich is published by Pomegranate. Fully illustrated, it featuring new essays by David Pagel and John DeFazio.

A survey exhibition titled “Robert Zakanitch: Garden of Ornament,” opens at the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY.

Completes his Celestial Series.
“My new series is an extension of the In the Garden of the Moon paintings in that the subject matter now goes far beyond our galaxy into the vastness of the glorious visuals of the universe, as if floating quietly from one galaxy or nebula to another. I call it The Celestial Series and also too, like the previous series, are painted in the magical properties created by gouache on paper.” -RZ, 2018

With renewed interest in the Pattern and Decoration Movement, Zakantich is included in two major exhibition in Europe: “Pattern, Decoration & Crime,” MAMCO, Geneva, October 10, 2018-March 2, 2019 and “Pattern and Decoration / Ornament as Promise,” Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany; September 21, 2018-January 13, 2019; exhibition to travel to Museum of Modern Art, Ludwig Foundation (mumok), Vienna, Austria, February 22, 2019-September 1, 2019.

Peter FreebyChronology