Malone writes that the show "highlights a selection of Fish’s work from the late 1960s and 1970s that demonstrates how, within the limitations she had set for herself at the time, she found a surprising range of solutions to problems arising from still life arrangements in the unforgiving light of a sunny window... She is — or certainly was between 1968 and 1978 — energetically involved in matters of pictorial structure that clearly differentiate her work from that of painters who at the time maintained a greater adherence to photography."
Amirkhani observes: "While the studio paintings lend the exhibition an important theme, it is Hackett’s dialogue with painting itself that provides the coherent pulse. Whether a studio scene or a vibrant explosion of color, the paintings in this exhibition point to the shared intensities of labor, time-based processes of making, and the artist’s intimate engagement with materials that all paintings demand."
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."
Kalm notes: "As a serious painter, battling against both the historic legacy of Abstract Expressionism, and the contemporary steamroller of Minimalist dogma, Fish concentrated on capturing the delicate and transient effects of light. Picking as her subject the simple still life, the artist, through her commitment and single-mindedness, raised this form to a new level of conceptual perception. During the decade represented by these works, the arc of development is profound, and stands as a unique statement to Fish's achievement in painting."
Calandra notes: "Coates is a painter's painter. She evokes the chaos of Pollock's drips in one canvas and divides a grilled cheese or doughnut down the middle like Barnett Newman's 'zips' in another, while the landscape between two cookies of an ice-cream sandwich oozes with the same visceral qualities of a Joan Mitchell. Jennifer is analyzing the abstract in the everyday and making it more bewitching as she does so."
Metzger comments: "I am tied to the belief that paint can be alchemic in a way. I think the illusion that paint has the capability of reconfiguring itself through becoming something other than itself has always been fundamental to painting. ... I know it sounds ridiculous or perhaps a little too dogmatic, but in painting today there is just not enough insistence on forcing paint to do what the artist wants it to do. It’s a material like anything else in the world and you can make it do whatever you believe it can do."
Altoon Sultan blogs about two exhibitions currently on view at David Zwirner Gallery, New York: Giorgio Morandi and Donald Judd (both on view through December 19).
Sultan writes that at the Judd show: "Here was work that was intensely formal––about shape and dimension and repetition and balance and weight and color––that was so beautiful in its clarity and reserve that I was deeply touched. ... Walking upstairs ... where a beautiful show of Morandi paintings and prints was hanging, I was struck by a similarity of concerns for the two artists. Although Morandi's forms aren't minimalist, he painted the same simple objects again and again in different configurations, playing with basic ideas of relationships of form and space and color. Whether the objects are in a line at the front edge of a table or compressed against its outer edge, I feel that the things depicted are more than just studio props; they become, like the Judd sculpture, essential forms, touching on transcending the ordinary."
Mattera provides a photo tour of the show and makes note of revelatory details provided by the accompanying photography of Morandi's objects by Joel Meyerowitz including that "... Morandi set up his still lifes at three different levels: on the table, and on shelves at two different heights, so that even when he painted the same motif—he revisited similar compositions many times—he may have altered them via perspective, as well as by light source, or by adding or subtracting the number of objects in the composition. I mean, I'd noticed the difference in perspective, but I didn't know until the visit that Morandi had a system for it."
Hughes writes: "The 1930s is an interesting decade in Morandi’s work. It was a decade when he was finding his voice and made fewer paintings than at any other time. He was teaching etching at the Accademia di Belle Arti. Italy was under Fascist rule. A lot of art in Italy at the time was political and about spectacle, not particularly personal. Morandi deepened his palette to browns and darkened earth-tones, working slowly, also deepening his gaze inward. Seemingly the political darkness made it way into his work. It was during this period when he honed his approach to his personal style of applying thicker paint and becoming more poetic with his forms and less representational."
“O Nature, and O soul of man! how far beyond all utterance are your linked analogies! not the smallest atom stirs or lives on matter, but has its cunning duplicate in mind.” –Ahab
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Roman, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and French. These cultures all developed uniquely mannered still-life traditions that so codified the cultural gestalt of each that the works carry associations far beyond visual culture into political, economic and religious history. What about American still-life painting? Have we ever witnessed a stylistic zenith in which our culture’s most critical ideas were codified in the still-life? Are there American painters who captured the cultural zeitgeist the way our greatest novelists and musicians have? Do we have a Zurbarán, a Chardin or a Cézanne? These questions, and many more, come to mind while viewing The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Audubon to Warhol: The Art of American Still Life, an ambitious, scholarly show that traces American still-life painting back to its roots at the birth of our society.
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.