Tim Keane writes about the new volume of the Ellsworth Kelly Catalogue Raisonné that focuses on Kelly's early work from 1940–1953.
Keane writes: "Before the reader’s eyes, Kelly is transforming himself from a middle-of-the road figurative painter into an innovative, lyrical abstractionist gradually branching out into mixed media works and relief sculptures... the catalogue offers reproductions of rarely seen student works — extensive drawings and studies along with somber portraits and moody landscapes enlivened with European avant-garde conceits; Paul Gauguin and Max Beckmann are named as foundational influences. [Yves-Alain] Bois’s analyses of Kelly’s art school realism emphasizes how these naively naturalistic works portend the stripped-down semi-abstractions that were soon to come. After taking in the book’s entirety, the lucky reader will be tempted, as I was, to go back to these student works and seek covert abstract effects underpinning the representational elements."
Cascone writes: "The paintings [on view] mark an important stage in the artist's development, as he left Sausalito, California, in 1949, and began studying for his graduate degree at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. The exhibition also covers his time Urbana, Illinois, where he moved in 1952, and his first years in Berkeley, California, where he settled later that year. Throughout his career, Diebenkorn was always inspired by the landscape..."
James Kalm visits an exhibition of works by Robert Ryman at Dia:Chelsea, New York, on view through June 18, 2016.
Kalm notes: "This show presents a wide survey of various experimental and conceptual approaches to the project of painting. Since beginning his practice in the mid 1950s, Ryman has limited his materials to mostly white paint, square formats, and an extraordinary variety of grounds and surfaces onto which he applies paint. These twenty-two paintings record the evolving bodies of work the artist has developed from the late 1950s until the mid 1980s."
Ed Schad writes about unexpectedly encountering Alexander Rodchenko's triptych Pure Red, Pure Yellow, and Pure Blue (1921) on a trip to Mexico City.
Having been fascinated by the story of this work for decades, Schad notes: "I poured over the surfaces, but there was nothing to see other than cracks and age and fraying edges. The paintings obviously remained rolled a long time, and their condition spoke of a great fall from history ... They seemed naïve, a vision of the monochromic impulse as merely political, a vision of color as something fundamental and platonic that could somehow be 'pure.' ... But I remained stunned by my encounter with the work, by how it leapt ... into the sudden reality of my visit to Mexico... When one thinks of revolutionary art—when one thinks of democratic reform predicated on socialist principles—this is the art that one thinks of. Rodchenko put forth his equation, but these were other equations put forth by Mexican artists on the other side of the world. But do they hold their power? Are they really revolutionary? Or does form only hold what its creator requires of it at the time, only to evaporate when the winds of history shift?"
In the exhibition brochure, curator Karen Wilkin writes: "The founders of AAA believed implicitly in the power of autonomous, non-representational images to communicate profound ideas and emotions. In today’s art world, when verbally expressed ideas are often valued more highly than the forms that embody them and traditional facility in representation is often admired above any other considerations, the kind of wordless eloquence that the first members of AAA embraced has once again come into question. Yet the work of many significant artists, such as today’s members of AAA, continues to reaffirm the health and versatility of abstraction."
Kelly Reaves reviews works by Scott Wolniak and John Phillip Abbott at Devening Projects + Editions, Chicago, on view through February 13, 2016.
Reaves writes: "With nods to studio noodling, [Abbott's paintings] seduce with flashy neon hues and sexy pools and swirls of paint. They start on unstretched canvas first used for sopping up spills and clearing out spray guns. Once “found,” they are stretched and completed with strategically placed, blocky words, implying context but mostly functioning to stabilize the space. Also on view are Wolniak’s “tablets”—flat surfaces covered in plaster and painted with water-based pigments in palettes reminiscent of Hawaiian shirts, then carved into with elaborate linear patterns made up of circles, dots, scratches and swooshes. They are peppy but anxious, undulating with the manic energy of thousands of repetitive marks covering every square centimeter of their surfaces."
Yau writes: "Miller’s process isn’t to cover the canvas with paint so much as to cover and uncover it, to interrupt, upend or subvert an expectation. For her, a canvas isn’t a surface to which another uniform surface is applied, but a kind of diary where things are added, covered over, uncovered – a combination of construction and archaeology. To assemble her paintings, she has transformed aspects of trompe l’oeil, hard-edged abstraction (the use of masking tape), patterning and repetition, transparency and layering, as ways of assembling her paintings. She also seems to have gotten something from the French affichiste artist Jacques Villeglé’s use of torn posters in his decollage. All these possible sources are subsumed into the painting; there is no citation, irony or nostalgia, only the present tense of the painting... "
Zachary Keeting and Christopher Joy visit the studio of painter Michael David.
David remarks: "I came up from the roots of AbEx and from punk and I learned all the academics but my goal was to make paintings that when they went on the wall were undeniable. And your experience with them was not well behaved. And that they owned the room, and that they made you think."
Schwendener writes: "DeGiulio’s paintings take a simple trope, the floral still life, and remake it into a black-and-white postpunk-type affair. Call it Manet for the millennium, after his late flower paintings... If ... DeGiulio’s art plays it cool ... Zuckerman-Hartung’s work is a firestorm of techniques and effects: bleaching, dyeing, staining and sewing linen, silk and humble dropcloths."
James Kalm visits an exhibition of paintings by Jonathan Lasker at Cheim & Read, New York, on view through February 13, 2016.
In his intro to the video Kalm writes: "These paintings continue Lasker's investigation into the operations of perception, as well as how viewers might decipher various visual codes of abstraction. Kalm ponders the relationship of Lasker's use of ultra-thick oil paint with the tradition of 'Material Painting' that's developed within European and American Post-War practices, and how this "materiality" might have bee inflected by Pop Art, and Conceptualism."
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.