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Art Notes

12/7 Courbet and Manet (Olympia, 1863) were precursors to the clutch of French Impressionists hitting its high point in the 1870s, with Monet, Degas, Renoir and Rodin. Then, Post-Impressionists in the 1880s and 90s blew the door wide open-- Van Gogh and Gaugin, Seurat, Rouault, Munch (Scream, 1893), and especially influential on subsequent generations, Cezanne, "the father of us all", attributed to Matisse, who bathed with the Fauves early 1900s. Braques and Picasso start dislocating bodies and objects in Cubism (from 1906?). The Cubists reject Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase (1911), as he tells it because he had mimicked motion like the Italian Futurists and thus violated their rules. Duchamp gave up painting soon thereafter, and took a very different path, with fateful consequences for 20th century art, as I've explored in detail elsewhere. (He inspired Neo-Dada in NY from the mid-1950s, and his devotees Rauschenberg and Johns took three more steps into Pop just as Warhol started his screen paintings. (1961-62), and Lichtenstein was polishing his iconic comic book style.


hard-edged Helen and Morris

I like this piece, a hard-edged homage to the Washington Color School. I think of Morris Louis, and his mural-sized color gestures.. the one I used to see.. permanent exhibit, I think, at Nat Gal, East Bldg.. lower level, viewed coming down winding staircase. Eye-catching!

Mine was done during the RappCo period (c. 2001). I like it because it works as well, but differently, upside down. Just recently I've returned to working with color (after all the color wheel bullseyes and color-music spectrum theory of the earlier period)-- bright, bold colors, decorative if nothing else. (see gallery)

Helen Frankenthaler, I just learned, started the soft-touch abstraction early in the post-war period.. staining the canvas rather than painting it like Rothko and Barnett Newman. And why not show the color gesture by leaving some blank canvas, rather than full-field coverage? Her work simultaneously rebuked the macho Action Painters, Pollack and DeKooning in particular. A neat trick!

Morris Louis and Stuart Gilliam soon joined her, and paainted in similar style, thus the "school."

Stuart Davis "graduated" into bolder angular work, often with (letters, words, numbers), more urbane andd.... let me look more carefully before continuing along this line.

I find I'm fascinated by the processes artists use. I love YouTube vides of artists working in their studios. Learning a lot by watching, too. Thank goodness. PROCESS. The topic of the next post, where I'll talk about Bruce Naumann and others taken from Chapter in book Mark sent.

A separate post will follow the trail of the seach for the infinite in black paintings-- Rothko, Ad Reinhart, Frank Stella, Rauschenberg. For Ives Klein, it was there in his patented ultramarine blue (IKB). Robert Ryman has been devoted to white, especially white squares, for decades.

I assume they all knew Malevich, and his paintings Black Square ( 1915?) and White on White (1917?).

Here's my working strategy: Learn about these periods by identifying the heritage and legacy of all these major actors in the dramatic pursuit of the infinite through abstraction that strew the developemnt of Modernism.. and sealed the fate of American painting as it dissolved into Neo-Dada, Conceptualism, Minimalism, and Pop in the late '50s, and oil paint on canvas was out of fashion in the flush of Happenings, Performance, and Video (literally) taking center stage. Then figurative painting reappeared (Philip Guston, Pearlstein.. ?) and persisted despite considerable ribbing and snubbing on the NY Art scene. Today, everything seems to be happening at once.

The only prediction I would hazzard is that post-modernism.. and post-post-modernism, if that's where you think we are.. will end, and before very long. I said in my "farewell" article to my colleagues in the PA Theory Network (199?) that, wth hindsight in 2020 we will be able to give a proper name to the era we are now inhabiting.. and thus move decisively into the next one. [Our Pop President might mark the end of Pop. Where could it go from here, so completely insinuated-- supersaturated-- in the culture which bred it in Day-Glo days of yore.]

#artnotes #colorfield #artspeakes

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