Kent Minturn undertakes and in-depth examination of Clyfford Still's thesis on Cézanne and the clues it provides to Still's early and later development as an artist.
Minturn notest that "In his thesis Still eloquently emphasizes Cézanne’s 'tactual' application of paint and takes pains to describe the way his predecessor 'feels' his way around his forms. Cézanne and Still similarly dismantle Albertian perspective by giving equal emphasis to figure and ground... Although Still points out that one of Cezanne’s 'most important contributions to the evolution of modern art' was his ability 'to realize form in color rather than make color look like form,' he does not argue that one of these plastic elements is subordinate to the other. Rather, he situates them on equal footing and demonstrates the extent to which color and form are inextricably intertwined in Cézanne’s praxis."
With the work of Abstract Expressionist Charles Seliger (1926-2009) in mind, Addison Parks considers "that the painting is something that happens through the very act of painting, and not the result of some preconceived image that through careful effort produces the desired result. What we are talking about is the painting that evolves, changes, even appears to the painter in the act of painting."
He continues, noting that Charles Seliger "was as addicted to this experience as any painter I can think of. At the end of a painting he had arrived somewhere that changed him. That is the addiction. To be changed by making a painting."
To introduce his article on the "the visual anxiety that American painters feel when confronted with the European visual traditions," Mark Stone posts a revealing (and poignant) video of Clement Greenberg discussing Jackson Pollock's anxiety about whether his all-over drip technique was really "Painting."
Stone proposes that Pollock's inner-struggle is one that continues to affect contemporary American painters. He writes that Greenberg "makes clear that Pollock wanted to return to the Impressionists, to learn from them. And for me this points to our own continuing conundrum about painting. Pollock wanted to learn about painterly vision in Nature, about the way the Impressionists would see and paint through time instead of seeing and painting in time – visual culture versus experiential culture."
An essay by painter and writer Dmitry Samarov about the influence of place on an artist's work.
Samarov writes: "If you're a painter who's primarily inspired by your physical surroundings, it takes some time for a new place to soak into your consciousness in that way that's required to make pictures. Meanwhile, everywhere I turn here, there's a new thing to look at and tuck away for use later... My presence is starting to creep in as well: the back room has my bookshelf and flatfile and a bunch of old paintings on the walls... I'm beginning to belong."
D Richmond looks at the pictorial achievements of Sigmar Polke.
Dicussing Polke's "play between illusionism and reality," in the painting Negative Value II, Mizar, 1982, Richmond writes: "there is no recognizable imagery and the color in itself is ambiguous. What gesture that exists, if one could call it that, is not in the traditional painterly terms that one or at least myself thinks about in creating space. The space that exists in this does not make the canvas plane, the proto-typical concern of a Greenbergian formalism in late 20th century the primary focus. In fact this surface plane is of no import, hence the illusionism. Polke has created a spatial infinite..."
Frank Hobbs blogs a selection of thoughts on painting by Alan Feltus.
On painting's function in society Feltus writes: "I think art wants to be something people can turn to for a kind of meaning in their lives, or for a calm place within the turbulance of our modern world. Art doesn't have to explain our situation within the complexity of a chaotic and unstable society. Art can become social commentary, but it can also serve a much needed purpose providing a place of refuge wherein one can find a reason, or justification, for all the battling we have to do, mentally or physically, most of every day of our lives."
Bernhard Gaul profiles Austrian painter Max Weiler (1910 -2001). Gaul recalls that visiting an a 1980's exhibition of Weiler's work and hearing him talk "was the first time painting was revealed to me as an attitude, and as a physical experience."
Recalling a visit to an 2004 exhibition of Weiler's large scale paintings, Gaul writes: "exposure appears also as a core element in the way they are painted. In their essence they are hardly wilfully constructed nor are they first of all outpourings of inner conditions. Instead they appear like subtle responses to something external, although translated through the painter: Nature in many parts, or fragments of it. They are also generous, or better: expansive, providing a surface that allows for a stretching (of the soul?) like across a desert, ice, the sky – or indeed the sea."
Spurred by a recent exhibition of works by James Castle at Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris, an interesting post considers the true dynamic of influence between the avant-garde and "outsider" artists such as Castle. Although Castle's works look like those "who might have been a follower of Jean Dubuffet and Jean Fautrier... The fact that parts of the avant-garde incorporated 'outsider art' into their visual repertoire draws a different picture of the role of 'influence' than is suggested" by recent history.
As part of his series about under-known artists, Raphael Rubinstein profiles the paintings of René Daniëls.
Rubinstein writes: "From today's perspective, Daniëls's points of reference and conscious influences seem impeccable: Polke, Broodthaers, Magritte's periode vache. But we shouldn’t forget how unlikely these choices were for a young painter in the late 1970s. Also worth noting are his frequent literary references. The Venal Muse, a title given to innocuous looking early paintings (1979) of swans and mussels, is borrowed from a Baudelaire poem depicting his muse (and, by implication the poet) as a prostitute. In 1984, Daniëls painted a marvelous big imaginary portrait of Guillaume Apollinaire in a bowler hat with an artist’s sketchbook under his arm. Adding poetry to Rasuchenberg’s formula, Daniëls once admitted to 'using the former no-man’s-land between literature, the visual arts and life.' "
Samuel Cornish considers the work of painter Gary Wragg in relation to provisional painting.
Cornish writes "Wragg is also an artist who avoids heroic, definitive or authoritative statements, who posits a vision of art which is as circular, or perhaps labyrinthine, as it is progressive. In all these senses he is provisional, almost with a capital P. Where Wragg differs – or at least the most crucial of the many ways in which he differs – from those artists gathered under Rubinstein's rubric is in his evident and overriding belief in art, and in abstract art, as a place of meaningful and compelling visual experience."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.