In 1947, while a student at Back Mountain College, Ruth Asawa (1926 – 2013) made a visit to Toluca, Mexico. There, she was introduced to a local method of crocheting wire to create baskets for carrying eggs. The discovery led Asawa to experiment with weaving wire into continuous, organic forms like the above Untitled sculpture (1955), which is described as a hanging six-lobed, complex interlocking continuous form-within-a-form, with two interior spheres. These works challenged conventional ideas of sculpture by embracing utilitarian craft methods and relying on the ceiling instead of the floor for support.
Photographed September 2020
In the early 1950s, Asawa later explained, the art establishment passed over her work because “it wasn’t traditional sculpture. They thought it was craft, or something else, but not art.” For Asawa, woven wire offered many possibilities of form and resulted in a work that was both transparent and airy, qualities that make the surrounding space part of the experience of the work and emphasize the connection between the interior and the exterior of the object.
“At the start of the fifties, Uruguayan artist Maria Freire (1917 – 2015) recalled, “I abandoned figuration for the perspective of the imagination, anxious to create a new space.” To develop her own style of abstraction, she initially experimented with sculpture, creating virtual volumes through a single, dynamic line. Complex spatial effects also characterize her abstract paintings, such as this Untitled piece from 1954. Though free of perspective, Freire’s painted interwoven forms seem to recede, even dance, in an ambiguous space in tension with the painting’s flat surface.
Alejandro Puente (1933 – 2013) was at the fore of a group of artists from La Plata, Argentina, who shared with American Minimalist and Conceptual artists of the 1960s a devotion to the rigorous exploration of systems of color and form. This composition reflects Puente’s preference for the primary colors as they appear unmixed on a color wheel. Arranged together, four equilateral triangles make up a single, larger triangle, with the three primary colors radiating out from an anchor in black. An even white strip runs along two sides of each triangle, suggesting a state of incompleteness while also creating the perimeter of overall composition. As this composite work suggests, the abstract vocabularies practiced by La Plata artists effectively abandoned traditional painting by embracing the shaped canvas, the support assuming its own identity in space as an object
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
This photograph of artist David Wojnarowicz (1954 – 1992) was taken in late May of 1991 at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico while Wojnarowicz and his friend Marion Scemama took a road trip around the American Southwest. Cynthia Carr, the artist’s biographer, describes how the photograph came to be:
David had been there before and he knew exactly where he wanted stage this. “We’re going to dig a hole,” he told her, “and I’m going to lie down.” They began digging without saying word, a hole for his upper body and a bit for his legs. They used their hands. The dirt was loose and dry. He lay down and closed his eyes. Marion put dirt around his face until it was halfway up his cheeks and then stood over him, photographing his half-buried face first with his camera and then with hers.
This image was also licensed for use as the cover art for the soundtrack recording of the 1995 film, Postcards From America.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit History Keeps Me Awake at Night, on View Through September 30th, 2018 at the Whitney Museum in NYC.
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 Art. Hess 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.
Donald Judd (1928 – 1994) created his first vertical Stack Sculpture in 1965. Coincidentally, this was just one year before furniture designer Ettore Sottsass designed his Superebox cabinet series. At the time, Sottsass claimed to have been inspired from the radical materials and construction of Parisian fashion, but he late wrote about Judd and even named a table in homage to him.
Untitled Stack Sculpture (1970) Detail
Sottsass and Judd each explored Minimalism and the effect of objects on their environment, but from strikingly different vantage points
Judd’s sculptures use the language and materials of serial production and functionalist design, while Sottsass created functional objects with the aspiration of minimalist sculpture.
The 2017 edition of the annual Frieze Art Fair on New York’s Randall’s Island Park was a huge disappointment compared to previous years, or even to the Context Art Fair at the pier just one day earlier. The weather was the suck and most of the art was complete garbage. That said, I did get to see a handful of artworks that moved me. One of those is this large, egg shaped and wall-mounted cast polyurethane sculpture, To Be Titled (2017) by legendary artist Lynda Benglis.
Untitled (Anxiety), 2017 By Beverly Fishman (All Photos By Gail)
CUE Art Foundation is currently hosting Dose, an exhibition of paintings by Beverly Fishman, curated by Soundsuit 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.
Felix Gonzales-Torres (1957 – 1996) ever-generous artworks invite viewers to participate in them — by eating candy from a gleaming pile of sweets making up one of his works, for example, or removing a poster from an endlessly replaceable stack of paper. Yet despite their decisive ephemerality, these works are imbued with both personal and political undertones. While invoking the allegedly content-free vocabulary of minimalism, Gonzalez-Torres nonetheless subtly hints at possible meanings through parenthetical subtitles he assigned to each untitled work.
The luminous, blue-beaded curtain Untitled (Water) evokes images of an aquatic landscape but also dreams of travel and escape. The strings of faceted, blue plastic beads have as their source the humble curtains often found in bodegas, but when stretched across the expanse of the entrance-way, the shimmering strands resemble a waterfall. Installed in the lobby of the Brooklyn Museum, Untitled (Water), 1995, serves as a threshold, a place of passage, marking off the activity of the street from the theater of the exhibition.
Unix Gallery is currently hosting a solo exhibition by Korean artist KwangHo Shin –“제목이 없는 존재” — which literally translates to “There is no Title.” Shin’s latest series of work features new oil paintings that challenge the notion of identity and interactivity between people. Painting in the new environment of New York City, Shin features new tones and color combinations that directly reflect the artist’s experience with his new surroundings. The result of this is a seductive enigma, an amalgamation of specificity and obscurity, anxiety and humor; all with Shin’s expressive strokes that articulate the eponymous notion of “제목이 없는 존재,” the devoid identity, the ‘untitled being.’
Evoking themes of Abstract Expressionism, Shin employs intense and vibrant colors to depict the individualistic expression of emotion and a sense of self. He applies charcoal and oils in thick brushstrokes to distort and exaggerate the subject’s facial features. His technique confronts the viewer with an emotional impact, effecting our understanding of the human form. Channeling a more figurative mode with Untitled 16NY09, the artist melds layers of pinks and purples with white to create an explosion of ephemeral flesh. The use of softer pastels leaves a more gentle effect offset by rich siennas and flesh tones.
Colorful and faceless paintings brilliantly capture the complexity of human emotions. The subjects range from individual models, noted international celebrities, and self-portraits. Untitled 16NY16 expresses Shin’s natural inclination to represent his subjects’ personalities and innate nature; even his own. “I don’t see anything,” the artist ruminates on his source material, “but it is also a self-portrait. When I am painting I don’t exactly plan what colors I will use to paint.” Here, Shin is able to clear his mind and evoke his full creative psyche.
“During the painting process I change my ideas and feelings many times. I just focus on that feeling; that moment…I put the totality of my energy into that feeling so that when a work is complete I feel peaceful.” Whether it is the external pose of the subject or the unique color combinations, abstraction or layered texture, the portraiture of KwangHo Shin is able to document the psychological changes and clashes that arise in us all.
KwangHo Shin’s There is No Title will be on Exhibit Through July 30th, 2016 at Unix Gallery, Located at 532 West 24th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.