In the early 1980s, Sherrie Levine (b. 1947) began making copies of artworks by famous men and presenting them as her own. Exhibiting in downtown commercial galleries, Levine shocked audiences with her ‘theft.’ She questioned the authenticity, originality and value of the artworks and, like her peers Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger, confronted the myth of the heroic male artist. Continue reading Modern Art Monday Presents: Sherrie Levine, Large Check: 1 – 12
This painting, Expansion in Four Directions (1961 – 62), shares its lozenge shape and geometric divisions of color with many paintings by Piet Mondrian, whose work Max Bill (1908 – 1994) collected and in whom he was greatly interested. Bill trained at the Bauhaus in the 1920s under Josef Albers and was an architect and graphic designer as well as an artist. In his work, he aimed to transcend personal artistic expression to achieve universal communication, and to this end he used mathematics as a neutralizing compositional device.
The subject of an exhibition at the Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo in 1950 and winner of the grands prize for sculpture at the Sao Paulo Bienal in 1951, he helped to introduce a generation of Latin American artists to European geometric abstraction. Bill designed the catalogue for a 1955 Mondrian exhibition at the Zurich Kusthaus and lent to it three Mondrian paintings in his collection.
Photographed at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
Ad Reinhardt (1913 – 1967) 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.
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.
Heralded for his abstract visual evocations of jazz, Stuart Davis‘s art also responded profoundly to the industrial age. Men and Machine (1934) features two men standing before a schematically rendered structure with their backs to the viewer. Likely representing a construction site with the foreman and investor looking on, the painting alludes to New York’s interwar construction boom. Highlighting the degree to which industrialism was associated with masculinity, Davis’s painting, consisting of primary colors on a white background, also testifies to the artist’s respect for Piet Mondrian.
Photographed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art 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.