Tag Archive | Abstract

Modern Art Monday Presents: Ad Reinhardt, Number 22

Ad Reinhardt Number 22
Photos By Gail

Ad Reinhardt (19131967)  studied both Eastern and Western art history at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He deepened his understanding of Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies by attending the lectures of Zen teacher Daisetz Suzuki at Columbia University. Number 22 (1949) shows Reinhardt fusing Eastern and Western traditions by using calligraphic brushwork inspired by Chinese and Japanese calligraphy in a gridded composition influenced by those of de Stijl cofounder Piet Mondrian.

Ad Reinhardt Number 22 Detail
Number 22, Detail

In classical East Asian painting, the fragility of paper wet with ink limits the artist’s ability to rework the composition. The sturdier canvas support and slower-drying oil paints used throughout much of the history of Western painting allows artists to highlight various revision and layering techniques. Although he worked in oil on canvas, Reinhardt chose to restrain himself and not rework his painting’s surface, in keeping with Asian calligraphic traditions. The result is a far more controlled manner of gestural painting than those of the Abstract Expressionists.

Photographed in the Guggenheim Museum in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Eva Hesse, Untitled Abstract Painting

Untitled Abstract Painting
Photo By Gail

This Untitled Abstract Painting (circa 1963 or 64) is one of the last paintings made by Eva Hesse before she switched to sculpture. Its deconstructed symbols, figures, and shapes evoke natural forms and bodies without ever being directly identifiable. Delicate brushwork, soft colors and a light, witty touch lend this work a feminine quality that she intended as a rebuke to the masculinity of Minimalist ArtHess was reading Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex at this time, and the text led her to question her own fragmented status as artist, woman and wife. Her work, though not overtly political, explores these issues in poetic, expressive abstractions.

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Elizabeth Murray, Once

Once
Photo By Gail

In 1978, Elizabeth Murray (1940 – 2007) made a series of irregular, star-shaped paintings with the aim, she said, of “trying to complicate and obfuscate the edges” of her medium. Indeed, the jostling contours and vivid colors of Once appear to explode outward, as if pressing the very form on the canvas into new arrangements. Murray’s dynamic compositions, charged brush strokes, and radical disruption of the frame transform the picture plane into both surface and object. While these paintings appear purely abstract, hints of imagery and reference return in subsequent works. Drawing on Cubism, Surrealism and Minimalism, Murray’s fragmented geometries and biomorphic shapes reinvigorated formalist painting in the 1970s and 1980s.

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Joan Snyder, Hard Sweetness (From the Stroke Series)

Hard Sweetness

Hard Sweetness (1971) is one of Joan Snyder’s Stroke paintings, a series in which abstract imagery and mark-making register personal and political struggles and decisions. Snyder began making art in the late 1960s, a time when men dominated the art world. Her sensibility and style were inspired by feminism, music, Expressionism, and her own life experience, as well as dislike of the distilled macho aesthetics of Minimalism.

Hard Sweetness uses strokes of paint in soft stains, loose washes, and thicker scumbling ( applying a very thin coat of opaque paint to give a softer or duller effect) to create rhythmic, almost musical passages of color across the canvas. As the title of this work suggests, Snyder blurs the distinction between the senses of sight, taste and perhaps even sound and smell. Like her contemporary Eva Hesse, she balances a feminine palette with a muscular formal complexity.

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Rudolf Bauer, Invention (Composition 31)

Invention (Composition 31)
Photo By Gail

By the late 1920s, Rudolf Bauer (1889 – 1953) had replaced the lively and organic symphony of shapes that he had developed in his earlier work with a more balanced aesthetic. Invention (Composition 31) (1933)  epitomizes this trend and features flat geometries tightly gravitating toward a dark center, a hazy black shape perhaps symbolizing the ultimate void. Also around this time, museum founder Solomon R. Guggenheim became acquainted with the artist through Bauer’s former companion, Hilla Rebay. Not only was Bauer’s work amassed in depth, but he also played an integral role as Guggenheim’s European agent in the first decade that Guggenheim spent forming his modern art collection.  Invention (Composition 31) was reproduced on the cover of the catalogue Art of Tomorrow, which accompanied the opening exhibition of the Guggenheim Museum’s Non-Objective Painting, New York in June 1939.

Installation View
Installation View

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Modern Art Monday Presents: William Baziotes, The Flesh Eaters

The Flesh Eaters
Photo By Gail

Like the Surrealists he admired, and his fellow Abstract Expressionists, William Baziotes (1912 – 1963) was fascinated by the power of myth. Here, the title The Flesh Eaters (1952) and its imagery suggest the story of the Cyclops, the one-eyed giant who devoured Odysseus’s sailors in Homer’s epic poem. In this ambitious work, Baziotes applied layer upon layer of oil paint and rubbed it into the canvas to create a shimmering, opalescent surface that evokes an underwater world inhabited by undulating, biomorphic forms. Characteristically, the artist combined menacing forms with luminous colors to create a paradoxical work that is both repulsive and compelling.

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Jean Hélion, Standing Figure

Standing Figure
Photo By Gail

French born artist Jean Hélion (1904 – 1987) painted Standing Figure at a time when he was a central proponent of nonrepresentational art in the United Stares. In 1936Hélion was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group, which counted among its members Willem de Kooning. In this painting, the body is interpreted in curved forms and shaded in tones of gray that resemble the metallic parts of a machine. Hélion’s depiction of the human figure is inspired by the quick-paced life of the city streets, and the presence of new technology in urban settings.

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum on Art in NYC.

Ziggy Stardust By Albert Oehlen

Ziggy Stardust
Photo By Gail

Albert Oehlen (b. 1954) exaggerates and distorts the conventions of abstract painting, breaking rules as a way to critique traditions based on taste and canonized art historical narratives. His paintings are steeped in an aesthetic of extravagance and indulgence, often containing jarring color combinations, half-baked forms, and decorative touches.

Oehlen’s Ziggy Stardust (2001) pays homage in its title to musician David Bowie, who used his lavish alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust, to examine the power — and the destructive nature — of Rock and Roll. By channeling Bowie, Oehlen draws attention to the excesses of painting.

Beginning with an austere architectural CAD drawing, Oehlen the launches an assault on the canvas with bilious color, sludgy forms, and clashing techniques. Combining computer-generated and gestural marks, Oehlen prods at the very idea of the artist’s hand and supposed creative genius.

Photographed in The Broad Museum in Downtown Los Angeles.

Mary Heilmann Geometrics: Waves, Roads, etc. at 303Gallery

Rose Wave
Rose Wave (All Photos By Gail)

303 Gallery is currently hosting an exhibition of new works by Mary Heilmann, whose work you might remember from This Post.

Rotate
Rotate

On view are an arrangement of paintings on canvas and handmade paper, glazed ceramics, and a group of her distinctive furniture sculptures.

Cups on a Table
Cups on a Table

Wryly poking around the history of abstract painting, Heilmann’s imaginative approach to the geometries of spaces, things and thoughts has made her one of the foremost painters of her generation. Adopting waves and roads as inspiration for many of the works in this show, her deft perceptive logics suggest simultaneously intimate and expansive experiences.

Highway My Way
Highway My Way

In Heilmann’s paintings, waves and roads each generate their own sources of life. They move and travel and interlock. Positive and negative space inhabit alternating roles, as colors riff on memory in vibrant undulations as well as protracted expanses. Heilmann’s geometrics abut forms and steer the eye backward between them and seemingly through them.

Maricopa Highway
Maricopa Highway

San Andreas

In San Andreas (2012), a glowing red core pokes through chunks of earthy green glazed ceramic, its tactile surface bubbling with tension. In The Geometry of a Wave, a tiny painting on paper suggests an entire universe in two colors. Pigment pools in the paper’s irregular crevices, as a wave’s fragile surface is rendered with a penetrating directness.

First Date
First Date

In his memoir Barbarian Days, William Finnegan writes of the hallucinatory power of surfing, “It was as if we were suspended above the reef, floating on a cushion of nothing . . . Approaching waves were like optical illusions.” Heilmann’s own waves begin to depict a similar imagery with their synchronic positives and negatives. What seems like a simple gestural game drifts into the essential, into an intuitive understanding of a form’s resonance and a furtive ability to shape it.

Sunny Chaise 10 and 4
Heilmann’s Sunny Chaise #10 and #4 shown at the Exhibit Opening Reception

To that end, Heilmann’s installation of her signature chairs encourages viewers to sit, linger and engage in dialogue with the paintings, with each other, and with themselves. To sit and watch the waves, to hit the road.

Left and Right
Left and Right

The edges of the paintings point at each other; one can imagine the air between them as tactile. If a painting has its own language, why not try to speak with it?

Mary Heilmann’s Geometrics: Waves, Roads, etc. will be on Exhibit Through December 19th, 2015 at 303 Gallery, Located at 507 W 24th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Geometric Left
Geometric Left

Mary Heilmann Signage

FLAG Art Foundation Presents Surface Tension

Sterling Ruby SP301
Sterling Ruby, SP301 (All Photos By Gail)

If you dig Abstract and Colorfield paintings, then you are going to love Flag Art Foundation’s current group show, Surface Tension. This dynamic group show focuses on a selection of contemporary artists whose approach to abstraction incorporates a range of materials, processes, and techniques — such as sanding, stitching, dying, and layering — to draw attention to the dynamic potential of a painting’s surface. Artists include:

El Anatsui, Mark Bradford, Kadar Brock, Cecily Brown, Sarah Crowner, Sam Gilliam, Sterling Ruby, Sean Scully, Ryan Sullivan, Lesley Vance, Rebecca Ward, and Garth Weiser.

Inspired by Los Angeles gang culture and the use graffiti as a means of ‘tagging’ territories, Sterling Ruby’s mark-making presents a timely alternative to classic painterly techniques. Ruby’s atmospheric spray painting SP301, 2014 (top photo), organizes the canvas in bands of pink, acid green, and black, varying in shading and intensity as a product of using readily available aerosol paints.

Sarah Crowner, Untitled Leaves, 2015

The materiality of canvas plays a central role in Sarah Crowner’s Untitled (Leaves), 2015, a diptych of sewn, painted panels that plays with repetition of color and form.

Kadar Brock, Deredemirtdxii(mmb)

Kadar Brock’s deredemirtdxii, 2015, was constructed, or more accurately worn down, through a labor-intensive (and often repeated) process of underpainting, priming, and power-sanding, producing a work whose tattered and marbled composition serves as evidence to its making.

View from Flag Patio

In addition to the lovely artworks, Flag also has a spectacular scenic patio from which you can see the sunset over New Jersey, and watch ships come in to port. Nice.

Surface Tension will be on Exhibit Through December 12th, 2015, at FLAG Art Foundation, Located at West 545 25th Street, 9th Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.