CUE Art Foundation is currently hosting Dose, an exhibition of paintings by Beverly Fishman, curated by Soundsuits artist Nick Cave. The show is comprised of a series of luminescent, geometric forms that resemble the shapes of common pharmaceuticals. Straddling the line between sculpture and post-painterly abstraction, Fishman’s optically intense work functions as an avenue for social critique, probing the pharmaceutical industry’s aesthetic decisions and branding strategies.
Stephen Greene (September 19, 1917 – November 18, 1999) was an American artist known for his abstract paintings and, in the 1940s, his social realist figure paintings. Greene studied with Philip Guston with whom he remained friends until Guston’s death in 1980. During his career, Greene taught at Princeton University, where he was teacher to many well-known figures in the art world including Frank Stella and art critic / historian Michael Fried. In honor of this being Halloween, I wanted to find an appropriately-themed work of art, and I think that Greene’s painting, The Shadow (1950), suits perfectly.
Below is an excerpt from an in-depth interview with Greene conducted by Dorothy Seckler on June 8, 1968, found Here, in which he describes his state of mind at the time of painting The Shadow, and reveals his feelings about the painting:
“In Europe I just sort of went crazy. I didn’t sleep much. I wander around till 5 o’clock in the morning. I had worked very hard to become a painter and to show. I suddenly found myself in a foreign place. And I bought canvas there and it was the wrong canvas and the paint went through. Everything seemed to go wrong. I had sort of loss of nerve. And so when I got a little better, the doctor asked me if I would prefer to go home rather than staying there. Well then I came home. I had taken leave from my job. So I had no job. The Gallery gave me around $150 a month for 2 or 3 months: no, it was a little more than that. But in a very scary way. The Whitney bought The Burial just about that time. And the Gallery was so peculiar about giving me the money sometimes I’d have to call 4 or 5 times for the check. And I needed it. I didn’t live sensibly enough so I could live on $150 a month. So I finally said give me $100 a month. I tried to teach privately. And then I got a one-day job back at Parsons. And I think that psychologically I had undergone a very bad experience. And so suddenly from someone who had been known I became unknown. It was like everything I had sort of worked for for a long time was rather difficult. I was very depressed. And so I had to start off like an invalid almost. I’d put something in front and almost trace it, fill it in. I wasn’t sure whether I’d ever be able to paint. So I painted this picture. It’s called The Shadow.
It’s a setup. But it’s a very simple form easel with an actual skeleton on it, and a bone on the floor and then the shadow of the skeleton on the thing. And in retrospect I certainly am not very happy about it. You know, it’s very morbid and I think subject matter can be murderous because no painting is worth anything unless it’s formally exciting in some kind of very different way. So I think this is just some sort of – you see when anything gets so straightly autobiographical and not much else, no matter what anybody else might see, I just don’t like the picture. That is never with me, too. And I find it’s just a curio out of my existence.”
Photographed in the Whitey Museum of American Art in NYC.
Have you been over to the Whitney Museum yet, to see the massive Frank Stella Retrospective? Geoffrey and I went a couple of weeks ago and it was absolutely packed, so maybe you want go sooner rather than later. Because it is super cool and there is so much art to look at that you may want to go twice.
Maybe you don’t know who Frank Stella is, and that’s OK. It is impossible to know every great artist. I’m not going to spend a lot of time giving you background information or discussing why Frank Stella (b. 1936) is one of the most important living American artists, because in this case I think the pictures should do all the talking.
You have just one more week to catch Frank Stella: Shape as Form, a solo exhibition of career-spanning works by the artist, on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery‘s Tenth Avenue space.The exhibition articulates Stella’s groundbreaking fusion between painting and sculpture.
The title of the exhibition is taken from Michael Fried’s essay published in ARTFORUM in November of 1966, which recognized the historic step Stella took with his Irregular Polygon paintings and “the very closeness of their relation to advanced sculpture.”
Beginning with the Protractor series of the 1960s through the Bali series of the early 2000s, Stella’s course between two and three dimensions has had a profound impact on generations of artists.
The exhibition begins chronologically with Sinjerli III, 1967, a Protractor painting employing the compositional element Fans, which was one of three devices developed at this time (along with Interlaces and Rainbows). Though strictly two-dimensional in structure, Sinjerli can be visually interpreted as being either recessive or protruding, optically challenging the limitations of the flat surface.
The same is true in Flin Flon, 1970, from the series of the same name, in which Stella uses a layered series of “interlaces” to create architectural reference points and illusionistic depth. These works are evident of Stella’s systematic approach to creating variations of paintings according to pre-determined criteria, which grew in complexity with every passing series.
Stella’s evolution into the third dimension — from the visual realm to the physical — would progress rapidly through the 1970s and 1980s in the form of the series Exotic Birds, represented in the exhibition by Eskimo Curlew, 1977, and the Circuits, seen here in Mosport 4.75X, 1982.
From 1984–1987, Stella’s hybridization of painting and sculpture would reach a dramatic crescendo in the Cones and Pillars series. Included in this exhibition is La Scienza della Fiacca 3.5X, 1984, a masterwork that was illustrated in the monograph from the artist’s 1987 mid-career retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, NY and last exhibited at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in 1989.
In the Cones and Pillars, the fundamental physical constructs of what traditionally constituted a painting had been expanded, effectively broadening the definition of the medium.
Frank Stella, Shape As Form will be on Exhibit Through October 10th, 2015 at Paul Kasmin Gallery, Located on the Southwest Corner of 27th Street and Tenth Avenue in the Chelse Gallery District.
Yeah, I know it’s freezing ass cold in New York right now and nobody wants to go outside, but if you can force yourself to make it all the way to Tenth Avenue and 27th Street, you can see this gorgeous work of art by Frank Stella, entitled Scramble: Ascending Spectrum/Ascending Yellow Values, (1978) which is part of Paul Kasmin Gallery’s current group exhibit at this location, entitled, The New York School, 1969: Henry Geldzahler at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Kasmin exhibit features many of the original works from the 1971 Met exhibit, New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940 – 1970 including Josef Albers, Alexander Calder, John Chamberlain, Joseph Cornell, Mark di Suvero, Dan Flavin, Helen Frankenthaler, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hoffmann, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Morris Louis, Robert Motherwell, Isamu Noguchi, Kenneth Noland, Claes Oldenberg, Jules Olitski, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol.
The exhibit will be on display through March 14th, 2015. Surely, it will have warmed up a bit before then.