Raphael Rubinstein considers the influence of Henri Matisse - whose work "under the best conditions, gives considerable space to other artists to construct something new" - on a group of American painters in post-war Paris, including: Sam Francis, Shirley Jaffe, Norman Bluhm, Joan Mitchell and Kimber Smith.
Rubinstein argues that these painters shared a connection to Matisse through French art historian Georges Duthuit: "All these painters were marked by their years in Paris in ways that set them apart from their U.S.-bound contemporaries, but the importance of their encounter with the work of Matisse, and with Duthuit’s interpretation of it, can’t be underestimated."
Raphael Rubinstein blogs about the need for a reappraisal of Norman Bluhm's work and his impact on painting in the 20th century.
Rubinstein writes that Bluhm "knew that he would finally arrive at an approach that combined his early architectural training, his debt to Abstract Expressionism, and his passion for old masters. But if he knew where he was going, he also knew that there were no shortcuts, at least not for someone who respected the integrity and craft of painting, who never wanted to reject his own past, whose work was always about reconciliation, even when the only thing he was reconciling was the painting he was working on and the painting he’d just completed.... In the 1990s, Bluhm’s multi-panel, mural-scale paintings offered a compelling summation of his own career (he never turned away from gestural painting, but daringly assimilated it into geometric structures) and, even more importantly, an audacious project to reconcile some five centuries of painting history, stretching from the Lorenzetti brothers in 14th-century Siena and passing through Botticelli, Rubens, Tiepolo, Cézanne, Matisse and de Kooning."
Paul Behnke photoblogs the recent exhibition The Lure of Paris at Loretta Howard Gallery, New York. The show highlights the lesser known influence of Paris on mid-century American artists and features work by Biala, Norman Bluhm, Ed Clark, Harold Cousins, Beauford Delaney, Sam Francis, Shirley Goldfarb, Cleve Gray, Al Held, Shirley Jaffe, Conrad Marca-Relli, Joan Mitchell, Jules Olitski, Milton Resnick, Jean-Paul Riopelle, George Sugarman, and Jack Youngerman.
Sol Ostrow writes in the catalogue: "In the 1950s, with the triumph of the New York School, the United States for the first time in history had produced visual art of international consequence. Yet, artists from the United States and from all over Europe continued to flock to Paris just as the center of the western art world was shifting to New York... Their reasons varied. Some saw it as an opportunity to be cosmopolitan or to satisfy their wanderlust; others may have imagined the Paris of Le Jazz Hot, café society, and the romance of the pre-war avant-garde, or the chance to see works by Vuillard, Bonnard, Matisse, etc., that they knew only from black and white reproductions. In most cases the women artists had accompanied their significant others, while like the generation before them, the Afro-American artists, sought to escape the racism that was endemic in the States."
Charlie Finch visits Norman Bluhm's monumental painting Coney Island Beauty, recently installed at 499 Park Ave, New York.
Although Finch finds that the painting owes an "overwhelming debt to Pablo Picasso," he writes that "a doubling in the subject at hand restored, for a moment, to me, what is right about the painting, why I wanted to love it. The 'beauty' depicted, you see, could be that chubby wastrel on the shore, but also the billboard of some Botero-sized babe adorning the games of chance, like SkeeBall, on the Coney Island boardwalk itself. In this way, Norman Bluhm sprinkles that rarest of painterly qualities, humor, into his sparkling rolls of color and Picassoid line structure."
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.