Smith writes: "By chance 'Legends' coincides with the Museum of Modern Art’s sweeping survey 'Inventing Abstraction: 1910-1925,' which traces the development of a largely geometric form of abstraction, mostly by European and Russian artists who often worked in closely related styles. In comparison the Whitney’s display might almost have been subtitled 'Inventing American Modernism, One Sensibility at a Time.' The artists here impress you as talented loners working toward diverse and much messier notions of modernity. To be sure, they take tips from European styles, but they also free themselves from such influences with highly personal responses to the sights and subjects specific to this country — the rawness of its landscapes, the tawdriness of its cities, as well as its folk art, social mores and racism. Sometimes they are working toward abstraction, sometimes not."
Altoon Sultan blogs about American paintings in the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut.
Sultan writes: "There is a strain in American painting that takes its essential character from the primitive, from a desire to grasp hold of things, to make them present and tangible. It's a reality that goes beyond the visual to the tactile... [I] was riveted by the colonial era artist John Durand's portrait. The color harmonies were beautiful, but it was the clarity of form that particularly interested me."
Wilkin notes the importance of John Graham to the American painters: "Graham was always in the middle of it… He's the glue." She also comments on how each artist was important to the others' development: "That kind of cross-fertilization is what fascinates us… It's not just that they're looking at European modernism, that's how these artists are always discussed, in relation to what was going on in Paris. Of course they're paying attention to that, but they're also looking at each other's interpretations of European modernism and learning from each other."
Naves writes that these four artists "were united by an unshakable sense of purpose. 'American Vanguards' is installed with an eye toward underscoring that bond. Discrete themes - the still-life, the city, abstraction (both pure and not), and what can only be termed Ingres-worship - are grouped together with a keen sense of rhythm and commonality. Continuity is the leitmotif, and it’s elaborated upon with understated and, at moments, thrilling nuance."
Daniel Gerwin interviews artists James Hyde on the occasion of his exhibition WORD! The Stuart Davis Group at Jolie Laide Gallery in Philadelphia. The works incorporate fragments of Stuart Davis paintings digitally printed, collaged painted over with fragments of words. In the interview Hyde explains: "I didn’t want the language to have a lot of meaning… or a lot of specific meaning. I want the words to be functional... You can look at my painting on the Davis details as words, or as a thin slab of applied paint. They move between recognition and experience. When you are really experiencing things you aren’t reading, but when you are reading, you are getting meaning, not experience."
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.