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."
Tim Keane reviews Robert Motherwell: Works on Paper 1951-1991 at Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, on view through January 3, 2015.
Keane writes that the show "testifies to that still-radical modernist belief that an artist should try for a maximum degree of innovation on behalf of a totally personalized expression. And there is enough varied, dynamic work here, much of it on a small scale, that can captivate even those wary of Motherwell’s occasional portentousness... The Kasmin show intermingles many gems ... 'Librairie Hachette' (1967) features wrinkled brown paper mailer with the painter’s address and assorted postage stickers and stamps. The wrinkled wrapping paper has been layered onto the beautifully painted pale blue and yellow paper. The work, like many of the collages, is both autobiographical and oblique. Collages like 'Untitled (Gran Vin or Red)' (1973) use artifacts of the artist’s daily life — especially his epicurean tastes — and then efface the cultural context by resituating the found materials within abstract planes of starkly contrasting primary colors. His arrangements of paper upon paper create an allusive visual poetry, as atavistic and spare ..."
Miller writes: "This first-generation American seemed less interested in pushing the boundaries of art and taste than in exploiting every new opportunity for expressing and valorizing his restless, rootless self in an ever-changing world. Life drawing, quickly executed, gave him many such opportunities, as he moved back and forth between observational detail and compositional dynamic... The narrative qualities of his figures re-emerged in the work of the 1960s. They’re still rough, but they almost feel cool and classic, expressing, perhaps, the financial security and academic stature that he had achieved. As always, his mastery of the human figure in space is remarkable—even on a page of one-minute poses from 1963."
Steven Alexander blogs about paintings by Richard Pousette-Dart on view at Pace Gallery, New York through January 10, 2015.
Alexander writes: "Not unlike the severity and radically of Rothko's last work, these paintings are an important departure from Pousette-Dart's earlier gestural works, and a tougher, highly simplified elaboration of his more overtly 'cosmic' pointillist paintings from the 1960s. Here the artist achieves a full realization of the metaphoric power of elemental form, creating undulating particular surfaces that coalesce into simple geometric configurations, while maintaining the sensation of perpetual flux. As Pousette-Dart worked his way out of the illustrative mindset of surrealism, he began to construct iconic objects that for him embodied pure transcendental energy."
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.