Fritz Bultman, Gravity of Nightfall, 1961, oil on canvas, 3 panels, 96 x 144 inches (courtesy of Edelman Arts)
In a new video curator Asher Edelman and author Charles Riley discuss the career of New York School painter Fritz Bultman. Fritz Bultman: The Missing Irascible is on view at Edelman Arts, New York, through May 11, 2013.
The video features close-ups of Bultman's paintings as well as a video walk-through of the exhibition. Riley notes that Bultman's term for what he was trying to achieve "was 'fullness.' He felt that most of the history of painting was some kind of recession from the surface backwards. Hofmann and Bultman were trying to fill the surface so that there was no further recession."
Andrew writes that "For Bultman, who unfortunately missed his photo-op as one of 'The Irascibles' (the group of Abstract Expressionist painters made famous by a 1951 photograph in Life magazine), the paradox in painting was bridging nature and art... Bultman recalls watching the burning of the swamps in the delta as a young boy. 'What appears to be a sheet of water will be burning with very high flames against a blue sky,' adding that he found the sight, 'terribly exciting. I don’t know anything else that seems to me as beautiful as that […] It’s fire and water. You very seldom see them together in such close juxtaposition as you do when they are burning a swamp.' ...To Bultman, nature was not only tangibly seen and touched, but also felt in one’s heart and head. Art was the interpretation or record of the pulse and rhythm of the human condition."
Subject Matter of the Artist: Robert Goodnough, 1950-1965, a new book published by Soberscove Press, is a time capsule of sorts. It unearths a lost primary source, penned by a significant artist, one that sheds first-person light on some of the most iconic artists of the New York School. It also conveys, through the enthusiasm of its author, a palpable sense of the excitement of a painter consciously aware he is in the midst of a significant avant garde moment.
Irving Sandler, in the foreward, describes the ethos of this moment (1949-1950) and its influence on Goodnough. It was a “lively avant-garde ferment,” Sandler writes, “in which [Goodnough] was introduced to the latest and most vital art and ideas, and all the fresh options in contemporary art.” (p.9)
As a graduate student and protege of Tony Smith at NYU, Goodnough embraced these ideas. He sought out avant garde painters, not only making the acquaintance of key artists of the New York School, but also visiting their studios and interviewing them for a research paper. This important, nearly unknown piece of writing, titled Subject Matter of the Artist: An Analysis of Contemporary Subject Matter in Painting as Derived from Interviews with those Artists Referred to as the Intrasubjectivists, is the centerpiece of this new collection.
Goodnough is known primarily as a second generation Abstract Expressionist, the generation that included Joan Mitchell, Grace Hartigan, Sam Francis, and Norman Bluhm among others. He also penned the seminal ArtNews article, “Pollock Paints a Picture,” a first hand account of Jackson Pollock’s novel drip painting technique (also included in this new volume - along with an interesting new revelation about that text).
Perle Fine, Cool Series, No. 35, Shape-Up, ca. 1961-1963 Oil on canvas, 70 x 80 inches (courtesy Spanierman Modern)
For an artist whose career success rivaled many well known New York School painters, Perle Fine (1905-1988) is surprisingly under-known. A student of Hans Hofmann, Fine was successful early, showing work at the Betty Parsons and Tanager Galleries in the 1940’s and 50’s. As early as 1942, her work began to be included in important group exhibitions at galleries such as Art of This Century and Stable Gallery. She was included in nine Whitney Annual and Bi-annual exhibitions between 1946 and 1972.
Fine’s artistic circle included the most accomplished New York School and European painters, from Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Ad Reinhardt to Piet Mondrian. Fine was a member of The Club, consistently well reviewed in the art press, and interviewed on the radio by Irving Sandler.
Early in her career, Fine practiced gestural abstraction, however, the current show at Spanierman Modern highlights selections from her Cool Series. This remarkable group of paintings moves confidently away from gesture (the hallmark of Abstract Expressionism) toward hard-edge geometric painting. Nearly every work in the show consists of a single open rectangular form on a monochromatic ground. Painted between 1961-63, they anticipate later developments in geometric abstract painting.
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.