For more than 25 years, Cecily Brown has transfixed viewers with vivid color, bravura, brushwork, and complex narratives that relate to some of Western art history’s grandest and oldest themes. After moving to New York from London in the 1990s, she also helped revive painting for a new generation at a moment when critics and artists were questioning its relevance. Continue reading Modern Art Monday Presents: Cecily Brown, Selfie
With an expressive composition of interwoven shapes in black, red and orange, Carmen Herrera’s Iberic (1949) oscillates between the geometric and the organic. Herrera painted this work during a formative period in Paris between 1948 and 1954, when she experimented with different modes of abstraction informed by the European avant-gardes, from Suprematism to the Bauhaus. Continue reading Modern Art Monday Presents: Carmen Herrera, Iberic
With elements of both figuration and abstraction, Walter Price’s paintings shift between everyday realities and invented worlds. Couches and cars float and merge into landscapes as space expands and contracts. Price’s subjects are drawn from his own experiences as well as familiar cultural symbols. The artist’s fluency with color, texture, and form gives physical weight to these liminal, dreamlike spaces. In making each new series of works, Price also sets limits. Sometimes he challenges himself to create a big impact on a small scale; in other paintings, as with The Things That Horse Ourselves for Uncertainty (2018), he reduces his palette to only a few colors. Mixing fragments of memory, recurring signs and symbols, and abstract figures engaged in unclear, ambiguous interactions, the paintings refuse the viewer’s efforts to find a fixed perspective or narrative.
Photographed in the Whitney Museum in NYC.
“At the start of the fifties, Uruguayan artist Maria Freire (1917 – 2015) recalled, “I abandoned figuration for the perspective of the imagination, anxious to create a new space.” To develop her own style of abstraction, she initially experimented with sculpture, creating virtual volumes through a single, dynamic line. Complex spatial effects also characterize her abstract paintings, such as this Untitled piece from 1954. Though free of perspective, Freire’s painted interwoven forms seem to recede, even dance, in an ambiguous space in tension with the painting’s flat surface.
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
The starting point for this lively patterned abstraction was an earlier canvas by Stuart Davis (1892 – 1964) entitled House and Street (1931). Treating each subsequent version as a riff on a jazz theme, Davis moved further and further away from his original composition to establish independent, rhythmic color patterns that retained only a few direct visual cues to the initial design. The Mellow Pad (1945 – 51) refers to the phrase “the mellow pad” — jazz lingo for the “cool” place to be. The pulsating colors and meandering forms seen here effectively mimic the dynamic rhythms of jazz. Davis developed his own style of Synthetic Cubism in which he dissolved figure and ground and referenced popular culture, adding a distinctly American sensibility to his abstractions
Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum.