While living and working in Paris, from 1948 to 1954, Ellsworth Kelly (1923 – 2015) developed an abstract vocabulary of line, form, and color and began is career-long investigation into how figure and ground are perceived in nonrepresentational painting. He became interested in the way that painting engages with the architectural space that it inhabits; rather than attempting to simulate three-dimensional perspective in a composition, he instead considered the wall to be a kind of ‘ground’ and the painting itself a figure on it.
In Orange Green (1964), made the following decade when he was back in New York, he established the figure-ground relationship on the canvas itself through the careful balance of two areas of color: the truncated orange egg-shape is the figure and the bright green color that surrounds it functions as its background.
When last we visited Kate Werble Gallery for one of sculptor Christopher Chiappa’s immersive exhibits, the place was covered wall-to-wall, floor-to-celing with Fried Eggs, and that was a good time. For his fourth exhibition at the gallery, Chiappa has installed in its front and back rooms two collections of what, on first glance, appear to be brightly colored, painted wooden tables. On closer examination, however, the at once familiar table shapes of Chiappa’s sculptures transmute and metamorphose into increasingly whimsical and delightful forms as you progress through the galleries. It’s a hoot.
With this show, Chiappa attempts a reset from past projects by returning to the most fundamental elements of abstraction: geometric shapes, solid colors, and line. His Compositions are made slowly, by hand; and his use of bright color serves to emphasize the assembly. The junctures between individual planes of wood are heightened by the sharp transitions in opposing colors and forms.
This one is my favorite. I think because of the Pink leg.
These works operate firmly within the gap of the simile. In color, shape, and temperament, they metabolize a succession of art historical reference points: Suprematism, Constructivism, Bauhaus, and Memphis Group. Like the Suprematists, for example, Chiappa uses the language of non-objective abstraction. However, instead of seeking to transcend the material world, he purposefully goes the wrong way around; he directs these forms back to the familiar.
As the tables become more abstract, you can play a fun game coming up with ideas of what the shapes remind you of.
In this one, the use of Orange and Purple reminds me of the Fed Ex logo!
This one reminds me of deconstructed version of a child’s Tricycle.
The Red Shape at the top of this one looks like a Fish trying to swim away. If you add in that Black Shape to the lower left, it could also be a Chicken.
In this, I see a group of friends of different races playing a game of One Potato Two Potato. See? Lots of fun. And I was by myself, so imagine how much more interesting it could be if you see the show with a friend.
Now lets check out the back room, where things get weirder.
Chiappa’s Compositions evolve without foreseen conclusion, evidence that repetition leads not to sameness but to difference. The early works remain closest to the basic form, and they gradually deviate further from the original. Though the parameters and materials remain the same, the final sculptures feel far removed from the first. The result is an autonomous object whose symbolic reference point has broken down altogether.
I see a big Target.
Look at all those Legs!
Compositions is a really fun exhibit, espcially for fans of minimalists like Ellsworth Kelly and modern furniture design. And you still hove lots of time to check it out!
Christopher Chiappa’s Compositions Will be on Exhibit Through June 2nd, 2018 at Kate Werble Gallery, Located at 83 Vandam Street, Soho, NYC.
Most of the better-known artists of the Geometric Abstraction school of art — such as Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Noland, and Frank Stella — are men; but that doesn’t mean there were no equally talented women artists working alongside these giants, just because we don’t know about them.
One such artist is the Cuban-American painter Carmen Herrera, who, at 101 years of age, is likely the oldest working professional artist in America. Right now, you can see a collection of Herrera’s work spanning three decades at the Whitney Museum, and it is pretty sweet. Carmen Herrara: Lines of Sight is the first museum exhibition of this groundbreaking artist in New York City in nearly two decades. Focusing on the years 1948 to 1978, the period during which Herrera developed her signature style, the show features more than fifty works, including paintings, three-dimensional works, and works on paper.
Lines of Sight begins with the formative period following World War II, when Herrera lived in Paris and experimented with different modes of abstraction before establishing the visual language that she would explore with great nuance for the succeeding five decades. Many of these works have never been displayed before in a museum.
Blanco Y Verde (White and Green) Installation View
The second section of the show is an unprecedented gathering of works from what Herrera considers her most important series, Blanco y Verde (1959–1971). Nine paintings from this series illustrate the highly innovative way in which Herrera conceptualized her paintings as objects, using the physical structure of the canvas as a compositional tool and integrating the surrounding environment.
With work dating from approximately 1962 to 1978, the final section illuminates Herrera’s continued experimentation with figure/ground relationships and highlights the architectural underpinnings of many of her compositions. This section includes four wooden sculptures — Herrera’s “estructuras”— as well as her brilliant Days of the Week, a series of seven vivid paintings.
For those who can’t make it to New York to see Lines of Sight in person, you can check out a new documentary, The 100 Years Show — which celebrates Herrera’s career chronicles her preparation for the Whitney exhibit — which is currently streaming on Netflix.
Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight will be on Exhibit Through January 9th, 2017, at The Whitney Museum, Located at 99 Gansevoort Street, in Manhattan.
Summer doesn’t last forever, especially in NYC, so why not plan to enjoy the nice weather while we have it by spending as much time outside in beautiful places as possible? Just do it!
Maybe you are already a huge fan of Art, but weren’t aware that the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) has a gorgeous, landscaped sculpture garden that provides a relaxing oasis in the center of Manhattan. It’s only open when the weather is nice, so you need to go now.
This is Your Vertical View While Seated Near the Fountain Pictured Directly Above
The Sculpture Garden is named for Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, an American socialite and philanthropist who was the wife of financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. Mrs. Rockefeller was known for being the driving force behind MOMA’s creation. It is nice that they named the sculpture garden for her.
Minimalist pioneer Ellsworth Kelly passed away at age 92 on December 27th, and we miss him already. I was just out in LA and had the chance to visit the fabulous new Broad Museum, where I took the above photo of one of Kelly’s famous works. Throughout the late 1950s and early ’60s, Ellsworth Kelly worked with shapes and solid colors deployed flatly across single canvases. Finding inspiration in both nature and art, he was drawn to the oddity of forms and the various conditions that create visual interest in unlikely ways. In this spirit, Green Blue Red (1963) abstains from the balance and harmony of traditional painting and reflects an impulse to build a surface of visual tension out of the contrasts of color and shape and the containment of an edge.
Kelly’s works of this period depict the jarring difference between colors and the unusual placement of shapes, energizing the visual experience in creating and disorienting optical effect. The green rectangle and blue oval are vibrant and foreign against a red background. Kelly does not construct balance or resolve; he creates compositions that are alive in their idiosyncrasies.