Riley writes: "The great critic and curator Robert Pincus Witten once observed that 'Poons instrumentalizes chance (the very hallmark of Abstract Expressionist painting).' The value of that felicitous expression is particularly suited to [the painting] Book of Minutes, which changes course both gesturally and chromatically innumerable times on the way from edge to edge." Riley notes that "[a]lthough acrylics have been around since the 1940s ... Solomon has a claim to being one of the earliest adapters for his type of expressionist surface. He certainly is one of the technical innovators when it comes to aerosol spraying—viewers will see blooms of fine mist in several of the works in the show. The technique for applying these blooms, which he called 'dropping paint in layers from above,' was part of the legacy of his camouflage work in the military."
Keane writes that "the show offers uninitiated visitors a chance to discover an American artist who redirected techniques of twentieth-century vanguard painting into a form of portraiture that is as much about the rhythms and processes of human recognition as it is about the diverse characters who were her subjects... her ability to paint this glimpse may explain her paintings’ intentional 'absences,' as discussed by critic Ann Eden Gibson. Gibson claims, in her penetrating essay, that Elaine de Kooning deliberately and variously integrated into her portraits incomplete features and implicit cognitive gaps. According to Gibson, she did so to generate an invisible, evocative vortex of sorts in each portrait, within which (as Roland Barthes claims happens in portrait photography) three human subjectivities can merge in a visual continuum – that of painter, sitter and viewer."
Sultan writes: "There is so much life in these drawings; they don't stay still politely, but have a continuing pulsing energy. The drawings remind me of the looser forms of Asian calligraphy, which require many years of study in order to have the knowledge to use free brushwork... I see a similar sensibility in the Lyric Suite drawings and the Open series, with their forms inhabiting large spaces, floating within them. There is a great respect for the ground plane and its strong presence; the artist's entry into it is as collaboration, not dominance."
An excerpt from Robert Storr's preface for the new book Go Figure! New Perspectives on Guston, edited by Peter Benson Miller, published by the New York Review Books and the American Academy in Rome.
Storr writes: "Guston died of a heart attack at the same age as Rothko, sixty-seven, yet was still at the height of his powers and on the eve of the unprecedented fame that resulted from his traveling retrospective of 1980-1981. Nevertheless, for countless painters who came to their vocation around that time or during the thirty-plus years since that show, Guston was embraced as a near contemporary in a way that none of his celebrated coevals have been. The resulting paradox—of being at once an avant-garde Old Master and a perennial beacon for emerging or reemerging talents—points to the essentially anomalous historical status from which Guston both suffered and benefited most of his career."
Haber writes: "Interpretations of Abstract Expressionism long divided between the poles of Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg, of grid and gesture. Goldberg makes clear how much they share—and how much they remain relevant for art to come. He treats paintings and drawings much the same way. Oil might be the medium for works on paper, along with blackboard chalk from an artist never above lecturing, while canvas might hold pastel and charcoal as well. And both hold a distinct range of color and feeling. Goldberg runs to violet and orange along with primaries and plenty of black. He includes lipstick reds unlike even de Kooning’s—and that without a woman in sight. Paint takes on physical weight, but without Hoffman’s floating rectangles."
Micchelli observes: "Schloss’s paintings, which, in their seven-decade span, are as much a part of the 21st century as they are of Abstract Expressionism’s Golden Age. Never wedded to a single approach, Schloss’s paintings proceed from an entrancing combination of observation, imagination and material experimentation. ... These paintings give off a heat commensurate with the inspired abandon of their creation. Modest in scale, they trade Abstract Expressionism’s existential struggles for an unadulterated rapture in the presence of daily life and the legacies of culture. Taken together, they embody the elusive gift bequeathed by the postwar generation to the rest of us — freedom."
Chris Miller reviews Her Work at McCormick Gallery, Chicago, featuring paintings by Mary Abbott, Janice Biala, Lynne Drexler, Perle Fine, Gertrude Greene, Charlotte Park, Vivian Springford, Yvonne Thomas, and Michael West.
Miller writes: "With the work of nine painters from the New York School in the 1950s, Chicago dealer Thomas McCormick has collaborated with several out-of-state dealers to pull together the kind of ambitious show more often found in a major museum... What these women have most in common is an emphasis on a tense, defiant gesture of applying pigment—whether by brushing, knifing, flinging or soaking. Restless experimentation was obviously encouraged, and there is appreciable diversity, even among works by the same artist. These paintings are more about dynamic, tumultuous struggle than balanced resolution. They don’t hit you over the head with an authoritative demand for respect, but they do reward attention once you enter them. The facture is rough and tumble, but always attentive to powerful details."
Charles Kessler blogs about Mark Rothko's digitally restored Harvard Murals on view at the Harvard Art Museums through July 2, 2015.
Kessler writes that the exhibition "is not only about a group of Mark Rothko paintings done at the peak of his career, but it’s also about an ingenious restoration technique – a way to restore the color of these faded murals via non-invasive digital projections... The exhibition features a much-damaged five-panel mural that Rothko was commissioned to make in 1961-62 for the penthouse dining room of Harvard University’s Holyoke Center... 38 studies for the murals ... And, presented here for the first time, a sixth [undamaged] mural which was painted for the commission and held in reserve until Rothko decided which five paintings he wanted for the final installation." Kessler add that the viewing digital restorations "isn’t the same as viewing paint on canvas. It is after all projected light. Nevertheless, as can be seen at 4:00 every day when they shut the digital projection off so people can see what the faded work looks like, the digital projection definitely helps to bring these faded paintings back to life."
Ad Reinhardt's Twelve Rules for a New Academy is the latest post in the ARTNews "Retrospectives" column.
Alex Greenberger introduces the text writing: "Much of today’s discussion of contemporary abstraction is centered on 'Zombie Formalism'—Walter Robinson’s coinage for new work that revisits (or apes, one might say) historical forms of abstraction for purely stylistic reasons. Given the intensity of that debate, we thought it would be interesting, for this week’s Retrospective column, to jump back almost 60 years, to 1957, when Ad Reinhardt took up the subject of contemporary abstraction in ARTnews. Reinhardt, who had written for the magazine previously, said that the article—titled 'Twelve Rules for a New Academy'—'constitute[d] his last words on art in terms of words.' He sharply criticized his formalist contemporaries, offering instead twelve ways to achieve purity in art."
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.