In works such as Relief No. 30 (1946), Raúl Lozza fragmented the surface of painting into discrete parts — usually, irregular geometric shapes — that he fixed in a particular configuration with connecting rods. Known as Coplanals, these constructions are placed directly onto the wall without any framing mechanism. The empty space in between their shapes thus becomes a part of the work.
Lozza investigated the possibilities of the coplanal for years, founding the Perceptismo group with his brothers. They developed a mathematical approach to painting that focused on the relationship between the wall and the coplanal’s dimensions and colors.
Alvin Loving (1935 – 2005) once described geometric shape as “a sort of mundane form that could be very, very dull unless a great deal was done with it.” For him, however, geometry ultimately became an arena in which to develop a dramatic color sensibility. Juxtaposing neon-bright pigments, in Septehedron 34 (1970) he created the illusion that the painting’s forms recede or advance relative to one another. At the same time, his use of geometric forms emphasized the flat surface of the canvas, from which a tension emerges between real and imagined space. Also notable for its visible brush stocks, Loving’s shaped canvas takes up the challenge of making all seven sides of a heptahedron visible at once.
In 1969, Alvin Loving became the first African American artist to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Spilling Over: Painting Color in the 1960s, On View Through August 31st, 2019 at the Whitney Museum in NYC.
Influenced by Piet Mondrian’s work from the 1910s and 1920s, American artist Burgoyne Diller (1906 – 1965) devised his own abstract formats in the 1930s. Divided into groups called “First, Second, and Third Themes,” Diller’s three series explore the sense of movement generated by different arrangements of geometric forms within a square. Second Theme pictures, such as this one (1938 -40), feature a grid system with rectangular bands of differing widths extending across the canvas.
Photographed the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
In 1919, Lyubov Popova (1889- 1924) described painting as “Construction,” the building blocks of which were color and line. In this work, Painterly Architectonic (1917), brightly colored, irregularly shaped planes are layered are layered against a neutral background. The curved bottom edge of a grey shape emerging from beneath a red triangle and a white trapezoid suggests three-dimensionality, while the vibrant colors and jutting edges that seem to extend beyond the frame evoke energetic movement. Painterly Architectonic is one of a series of works that Popova created between 1915 and 1919 is response to Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist paintings.
Shirana Shahbazi (b. 1974) makes photographs in classic genres like portraiture, still life, and landscape. Alternating between abstraction and representation, her vividly colored pictures are made in the crisp style of commercial studio photography without the aid of digital tools. She achieves her abstract compositions, such as Composition-40-2011 (2011) by photographing geometric volumes and pedestals whose sides are painted various colors, making multiple exposures of the same set of elements, and turning them between exposures to create an interplay between surface and depth.
This work is by an artist from a nation whose citizens would be denied entry into the United States according to recent presidential executive orders. This is one of several such artworks from the Museum of Modern Art’s collection installed throughout its fifth floor galleries to affirm the ideals of welcome and freedom as vital to MoMA, as they are to the United States.
In 1965, Achille Castiglioni (Italian, 1918 – 2002) created Model RR-126, a striking, modular stereo system that was based on pure geometry of a perfect cube, which could be combined in multiple configurations. The wheeled base provides an element of portability, while the graphic patterns of the speaker grilles and sound controls offer a bold, modern visual statement.
Photographed in the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in Manhattan.
The strong three-dimensionality of the biomorphic and geometric forms in this composition makes them appear animated within a space bounded by color zones. Charles Biederman (1906 – 2004) had been experimenting with styles of European modernism since 1930 and had gravitated toward greater abstraction after seeing the work of Cubist artists, newly on view in New York. He painted this untitled work while living in Paris in 1936, under the fresh influences of surrealists Joan Miro and Fernand Leger, who preferred strange or oddly combined forms that were both unsettling and humorous.
Charles Biederman died at home in 2004 at the age of 98. His estate was given to the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, which has organized traveling exhibitions of Biederman’s work
A distinguishing feature of the new Whitney Museum in the meatpacking district is this work by Mary Heilmann, attached to the northern facade of the building, which is called Sunset. A burst of bright pink, Sunset is a site specific installation that inaugurates the museum’s largest outdoor gallery and transforms it into a place of reverie, memory and leisure.
Mary Heilmann became known in the 197os for vibrant paintings that married taut, abstract forms with quivering line and vivid color. For more than thirty years, she has intermittently explored a stair-step motif bushed within rectangular fields or expressed through irregularly-shaped canvases, which happen to rhyme with the dramatic setbacks and grid lines of the Whitney’s new building. This serendipitous connection inspired Heilmann to enlarge a detail of one such painting and print it onto two large panels that playfully turn the building itself into her canvas and tweak its sharp geometries.
Heilmann’s intervention extends to a group of sculptural chairs scattered on the terrace like a shower of confetti. Adapted from furniture that she has displayed in homes and exhibitions, the chairs serve as elements in her larger composition and encourage visitors to interact with one another and the cityscape beyond.
If you are planning a trip to the Guggenheim Museum to see the On Kawara Exhibit – which is pretty sweet – you may be disappointed to discover that the Art Nazis are out in full force, forbidding photography in the Rotunda. And, frankly, that sucks, because if I can’t take pictures, it’s like I wasn’t even there.
Fortunately for those of us to like to capture and share the memory of seeing of great art, the Guggenheim is also currently hosting the very fantastic Infinite Possibility: Mirror Works and Drawings -1974-2014 featuring the work of Persian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, whose artistic practice weds the geometric patterns and cut-glass mosaic techniques of her Iranian heritage with the rhythms of modern Western geometric abstraction.
Monir in her Tehran Studio (1975) Working on Heptagon Star
This is the first U.S. museum exhibition of mirror works and drawings by Farmanfarmaian (b. Qazvin, Iran, 1922) and it was also my first introduction to her work, which is just amazing. To provide some background on this accomplished artist, Monir spent formative years (1945 to 1957) working in New York, during which she met artists Milton Avery, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Louise Nevelson, Barnett Newman, and, later, Andy Warhol, among others. She returned to Iran in 1957.
There, she further developed her artistic sensibility through encounters with traditional craftsmanship, indigenous art forms such as Turkoman jewelry and clothing, coffee house paintings (a popular form of Iranian narrative paintings), and the technique of reverse-glass painting, resulting in a period of artistic discovery that culminated in commissions in Iran and exhibitions in Europe and the United States.
Mirror Detail (Above) and Study (Below)
The Islamic Revolution in 1979 marked the beginning of Monir’s 26-year exile in New York, during which she focused on drawing, collage, commissions, and carpet and textile design. In 2004, when she finally returned to Iran, she reestablished her studio there and resumed working with some of the same craftsmen she had collaborated with in the 1970s.
The exhibit includes plaster and mirror reliefs, large-scale mirror sculptures the artist refers to as “geometric families,” and works on paper, revealing the central role drawing has played in Monir’s practice and focusing on a sculptural and graphic oeuvre developed over more than 40 years (many examples of which have not been displayed publicly since the 1970s).
Monir with her Mirror Ball Sculptures, Seen Below
This body of work is characterized by a merging of visual and spatial experience, coupled with the aesthetic traditions of Islamic architecture and decoration. Her use of geometry as form allows for, in the artist’s words, “infinite possibility.”
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility. Mirror Works and Drawings 1974–2014 will be on Exhibit Through June 3rd, 2015 at the Guggenheim Museum, Located at 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street) in New York City.
Puffed Star II, 2014, Polished Aluminum (All Photo By Gail)
Can you believe that Frank Stella is 78 years old and he is still making amazing sculptures like Puffed Star II? I can’t even believe it — and yet, it is true. Right now, Marianne Boesky Gallery presents Frank Stella Sculpture, the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery since joining in the spring of 2014, and you really have to check it out. Because, Look at this:
Just Look at it!
If this were the only piece in the show, it would still be worth going to. K.150, as it is called, was rendered using rapid prototyping or 3D printing. So remarkable.
If I owned this sculpture, I would never, ever stop looking at it. But wait, there’s more!
Sanibel to Sobolnoye, 2014
This one is pretty cool as well.
This one, Fishkill, is from Stella’s Hudson River School series.
I think this one is a study for larger work, as you can see a tiny model of the Puffed Star inside of it. Go see this exhibit while you can.
Frank Stella Sculpture will be on Exhibit Through December 20th, 2014 at Marianne Boesky Gallery, Located at 509 West 24th Street, New York, in the Chelsea Gallery District.