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3.3 post painterly_abstraction

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3.3 post painterly_abstraction

  1. 1. Art as Art: Post Painterly Abstraction Art  109A:    Contemporary  Art   Westchester  Community  College   Fall  2012  
  2. 2. Post Painterly Abstraction In the later 1950s, Clement Greenberg shifted his allegiance to a new style of painting he called Post Painterly Abstraction Hans Namuth, Clement Greenberg, 1951 Image source: Saatchi Gallery
  3. 3. Post Painterly Abstraction While deriving from Abstract Expressionism (in particular, the color field paintings of Barnett Newman and Clifford Still), Post Painterly Abstraction represented the “next step” towards a more purified kind of abstraction Barnett Newman, Onement I, 1948 MOMA
  4. 4. Post Painterly Abstraction Greenberg believed that Abstract Expressionism had degenerated into an easily reproduced formula: “Abstract Expressionism was, and is, a certain style of art, and like other styles of art, having had its ups, it had its downs. Having produced art of major importance, it turned into a school, then into a manner, and finally into a set of mannerisms. Its leaders attracted imitators, many of them, and then some of these leaders took to imitating themselves. Painterly Abstraction became a fashion . . . “ Clement Greenberg, Post Clement Greenberg looking at a painting by Ken Noland Painterly Abstraction, 1964 Image source: https://www.artnet.sk/Magazine/features/kostabi/kostabi9-11-18.asp
  5. 5. Post Painterly Abstraction The new artists he championed abandoned the “painterly” style of Abstract Expressionism, in favor of “physical openness of design” and “linear clarity” Clement Greenberg looking at a painting by Ken Noland Image source: https://www.artnet.sk/Magazine/features/kostabi/kostabi9-11-18.asp
  6. 6. Post Painterly Abstraction Helen Frankenthaler was one of the first artists to signal the new trend Andre Emmerich, Helen Frankenthaler, 1961
  7. 7. Post Painterly Abstraction She began pouring heavily diluted paint onto unprimed canvas so that the paint would spread and stain the canvas Helen Frankenthaler at work in her studio
  8. 8. Post Painterly Abstraction Greenberg saw this new technique as an “advance” because it eliminated the emotional qualities of touch and gesture still latent in Abstract Expressionism Ernst Haas, Helen Frankenthaler at work in her NY studio, 1969 Image source: http://www.ernst-haas.com/celebrity10.html
  9. 9. Post Painterly Abstraction The technique was more “anonymous,” and therefore enabled greater focus on the properties of the medium “In their reaction against the “handwriting” and “gestures” of Painterly Abstraction, these artists also favor a relatively anonymous execution . . . . These artists prefer trued and faired edges simply because these call less attention to themselves as drawing — and by doing that they also get out of the way of color. Ernst Haas, Helen Frankenthaler at work in her NY studio, 1969 Image source: http://www.ernst-haas.com/celebrity10.html Clement Greenberg, Post Painterly Abstraction, 1964
  10. 10. Post Painterly Abstraction The resulting pictures have a diaphanous watercolor quality, with lyrical clouds of color Helen Frankenthaler Mountains and Sea, 1952 Artnet
  11. 11. Post Painterly Abstraction In Frankenthaler’s poured paintings, impersonal process replaced the emotional resonance of gesture The works became more purely “optical” rather than illusionistic or expressive Helen Frankenthaler The Bay, 1963 Detroit Institute of Art
  12. 12. Post Painterly Abstraction In 1953 Greenberg brought the Washington DC-based artists Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland to visit Frankenthaler’s studio Morris Louis, c. 1950. Archives of American Art
  13. 13. Post Painterly Abstraction Louis immediately began making large scale paintings using the staining technique Morris Louis, Tet, 1958 Whitney Museum
  14. 14. Morris Louis, Tet, 1958 Whitney Museum
  15. 15. Post Painterly Abstraction In the “veil” paintings, the flowing pigment does not invite us to imagine the physical activity of the artist or his emotional state Morris Louis, Tet, 1958 Whitney Museum
  16. 16. Post Painterly Abstraction “Greenberg and his followers applauded Lewis for his ‘honesty’ in making explicit the real flatness of the canvas. Michael Fried particularly praised the disappearance of ‘all suggestion of the gestural, manifestly spontaneous handwriting of abstract expressionism.” Jonathan Fineberg, p. 156 Morris Louis, Tet, 1958 Whitney Museum
  17. 17. Post Painterly Abstraction Kenneth Noland also began to use the stain technique Kenneth Noland, Beginning, 1958 http://www.kennethnoland.com/works/1950-1960.php
  18. 18. Post Painterly Abstraction In the 1950’s he focused on a simple target-like image (inspired by Jasper John’s targets) Kenneth Noland, Selected Works, 1950-1960 http://www.kennethnoland.com/works/1950-1960.php
  19. 19. Post Painterly Abstraction The target motif and stain technique lent the pictures an anonymous quality, allowing the artist to focus on the properties of color and pigment Kenneth Noland, And Half, 1959
  20. 20. Post Painterly Abstraction The pictures became more “hard edge” in the 1960’s, and the artist also began to explore other geometric formats such as stripes and chevrons Kenneth Noland, Turnsole, 1961
  21. 21. Post Painterly Abstraction Joseph Albers belongs to the older generation of New York School artists Although not included in Greenberg’s show, his work parallels the trend towards purified abstraction Arnold Newman, Josef Albers, 1948 Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32357038@N08/3647471979/
  22. 22. Post Painterly Abstraction Albers and his wife Anni came to the United States when the Nazis closed the Bauhaus Iwao Yamawaki, The Attack on the Bauhaus, 1932 Image source: http://www.csun.edu/~pjd77408/DrD/Art461/LecturesAll/Lectures/lecture07/ bauhaus.html
  23. 23. Post Painterly Abstraction He became an influential teacher at Black Mountain college and then at Yale University Joseph Albers with Elisabeth Schwerd at Yale University
  24. 24. Post Painterly Abstraction Through his teaching Albers became deeply involved with color theory and perception Josef Albers: To Open Eyes: The Bauhaus, Black Mountain College, and Yale By Frederick A. Horowitz and Brenda Danilowitz; Phaidon Press
  25. 25. Post Painterly Abstraction In 1950 he embarked upon his Homage to the Square series, which would occupy him for the next 36 years “In his series titled Homage to the Square, Albers produced an extensive body of variations on a highly focused theme. Homage to the Square is a collective exploration of color and spatial relationships, in which Albers limited himself to square formats, solid colors, and precise geometry, yet was able to achieve a seemingly endless range of visual effects.” http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/geab/ ho_1972.40.7.htm# Josef Albers, Homage to the Square: Soft Spoken, 1969 Metropolitan Museum
  26. 26. Post Painterly Abstraction The series explored the optical effects of color “All this will make [us] aware of an exciting discrepancy between physical fact and psychic effect of color.” Josef Albers, The Color in My Paintings (1964) Josef Albers, Homage to the Square: With Rays, 1959 Metropolitan Museum
  27. 27. Post Painterly Abstraction Ad Reinhardt also belonged to the older generation of New York School artists Harry Bowden, Ad Reinhardt in his Studio, 1939
  28. 28. Post Painterly Abstraction He was one of the 28 “irascibles” photographed in 1950 when they signed an open letter protesting the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s neglect of modern American art Nina Leen, The Irascibles, 1950
  29. 29. Post Painterly Abstraction Reinhardt ridiculed the “transcendental nonsense” of his fellow painters, and accused them of “picturing reality behind reality” “The one thing to say about art is that it is one thing. Art is art-as-art and everything else is everything else.” Ad Reinhardt John Loengard, Ad Reinhardt, 1966 LIFE
  30. 30. Post Painterly Abstraction Like Clement Greenberg, Reinhardt believed that art should not express anything at all “The one object of fifty years of abstract art is to present art-as-art and as nothing else, to make it into the one thing it is only, separating and defining it more and more, making it purer and emptier, more absolute and more exclusive -- non-objective, non- representational, non-figurative, non- imagist, non-expressionist, non- subjective. The only and one way to say what abstract art or art-as-art is, is to say what it is not.” Ad Reinhardt John Loengard, Ad Reinhardt, 1966 LIFE
  31. 31. Post Painterly Abstraction His “Twelve Technical Rules” defined art in terms of a disciplined (self-critical) process of negation Twelve Technical Rules 1. no texture 2. no brushwork 3. no drawing 4. no forms 5. no design 6. no colors 7. no light 8. no space 9. no time 10. no size or scale 11. no movement 12. no subject Ad Reinhardt André Morain, Photo of Ad Reinhardt, Galerie Iris Clert, Paris, 1963 Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/loretomartin/3428547/
  32. 32. Post Painterly Abstraction In the 1950’s Reinhardt began working on large scale canvases that appear to be monochromatic Ad Reinhardt in his studio, 1955 Images source: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2008/08/01/arts/01blac_CA1.ready.html
  33. 33. Post Painterly Abstraction On closer examination, the viewer perceives geometrical patterns and variations in color and hue Ad Reinhardt, Abstract Painting, 1957 Museum of Modern Art
  34. 34. Ad Reinhardt, Abstract Ad Reinhardt, Abstract Painting, 1957 Painting, Red, 1952 Museum of Modern Art Museum of Modern Art
  35. 35. Post Painterly Abstraction Like Albers’ Homage to the Square series, what first appears to be simple turns out to be extremely complex and richly nuanced Tourists view an Ad Reinhardt Black Painting at the Guggenheim Museum Image source: http://www.voicesofthepast.org/2008/08/15/reinhardt-black-painting-conservation/
  36. 36. Post Painterly Abstraction Nothing in the picture makes us think about the artist’s emotions or intentions The absence of “authorial presence” forces us to remain focused on the painting itself, rather than seek meaning elsewhere Ad Reinhardt, Abstract Painting, 1957 Museum of Modern Art
  37. 37. Post Painterly Abstraction Reinhardt’s pictures are therefore very different from the emotional expressionism of the “action painters” Willem de Kooning, Woman I, 1950-2 Jackson Pollock, Cathedral, 1957
  38. 38. Post Painterly Abstraction And different as well from the atmospheric quality and brooding mood of Mark Rothko Mark Rothko, Black on Black, 1958
  39. 39. Post Painterly Abstraction Reinhardt’s paintings are “pure” paintings that do not refer to anything other than themselves Ad Reinhardt, How to look at a Cubist Painting (detail) 1946
  40. 40. “Ad Reinhardt's work became increasingly reductive and symmetrical in the 1950's and from 1955 until his death he worked almost exclusively in near-black.” Tate Gallery Ad Reinhardt, Abstract Painting No. 5, 1962 Tate Gallery
  41. 41. “These canvases . . challenge the limits of visibility. Reinhardt’s strategy of denial echoed his conviction that Modernism itself was a “negative progression,” that abstraction evolved as a series of subtractions, and he was creating the last or “ultimate paintings.” Guggenheim Museum Ad Reinhardt, Abstract Painting, 1960-66 Guggenheim Museum
  42. 42. “The kind of profound, self-reflexive abstraction he advocated was partially a product of, and reaction to, the climate of Cold War America . . . Reinhardt sought to create an art form that—in its monochromatic purity—could overcome the tyrannies of oppositional thinking.” Guggenheim Museum Ad Reinhardt working in his NYC studio Image source: http://www.matthewlangley.com/blog/2008/07/exhibiting-reinhardt- cadaver.html
  43. 43. Anonymous Painting So one reaction to the deeply “personal” style of Abstract Expressionism was the exploration of an “anonymous” “depersonalized” approach to art making. Hans Namuth, Jackson Pollock, 1950
  44. 44. Anonymous Painting The art historian Yves Alain Bois has identified several common strategies that artists have used “to bypass or suppress” a personalized style: Art historian Yves Alain Blois
  45. 45. Anonymous Painting 1.  The utilization of readymade forms (like Kenneth Noland’s targets and chevrons) 2.  Deployment of chance procedures How to Make 3.  Reduction of color to monochrome Anonymous 4.  Application of grids to sytematize and unify Painting composition 5.  Serialization, in which uniform elements are repeated
  46. 46. Anonymous Painting All of these non-compositonal or anti-compositional devices represent the antithesis of the improvisational and expressive methods of action painting Hans Namuth, Jackson Pollock, 1950
  47. 47. Anonymous Painting Ellsworth Kelly’s works from the 1950s exemplify the use of depersonalized strategies to produce “anonymous” paintings Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall, 1951 Museum of Modern Art
  48. 48. Ellsworth Kelly Kelly was a member of the Abstract Expressionist generation After World War II he studied art in Paris and returned to the United States in 1954 Ellsworth Kelly. Photograph © Jack Shear
  49. 49. Ellsworth Kelly He pursued a style of “hard edge” abstraction that anticipated 1960s Minimalism of (though he did not like either of these labels) Ellsworth Kelly. Photograph © Jack Shear
  50. 50. Ellsworth Kelly While the Abstract Expressionists pursued a personal, expressive style, Kelly explored an impersonal approach to abstraction "I have never been interested in painterliness" Ellsworth Kelly "I want to eliminate the 'I made this' from my work.” Ellsworth Kelly Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall, 1951 Museum of Modern Art
  51. 51. Ellsworth Kelly For this work, he began with a collage of colored paper arranged in a grid Ellsworth Kelly, Study for Colors for a Large Wall, 1951 Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall, 1951 Museum of Modern Art
  52. 52. Ellsworth Kelly He then painted individual panels that matched the colored squares and arranged them on the wall Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall, 1951 MOMA Photograph © Sid Gomez Hildawa, 2007 http://www.momahildawa.blogspot.com/
  53. 53. Ellsworth Kelly The procedure for generating the image was impersonal and detached “Kelly arranged the sixty–four square panels of the grid in an arbitrary sequence, likening his method to the "the work of a bricklayer." Museum of Modern Art Ellsworth Kelly, Study for Colors for a Large Wall, 1951 Museum of Modern Art
  54. 54. Ellsworth Kelly He employed several of the strategies for making “anonymous” paintings listed earlier: The ready made: the color squares were commercially made Chance procedures: the color sequences were arranged by chance Reduction of color to monochrome: each square is a monochrome Application of grids: the squares are arranged in a grid Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall, 1951 Museum of Modern Art
  55. 55. Ellsworth Kelly The resulting picture does not invite speculation about what it might represent (illusionism), or what kind of emotion it might convey (expressionism or symbolism) Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall, 1951 Museum of Modern Art
  56. 56. Ellsworth Kelly As Frank Stella said explaining his own Minimalist paintings, “What you see is what you see” Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall, 1951 Museum of Modern Art
  57. 57. "I have never been interested in painterliness," Kelly has said, using painterliness to mean "a very personal handwriting, putting marks on a canvas." There is no personal handwriting, nor even any marks as such, in Colors for a Large Wall . . . Not even the colors themselves, or their position in relation to each other, could be called personal . . . Believing that "the work of an ordinary bricklayer is more valid than the artwork of all but a very few artists," he fused methodical procedure and a kind of apollonian detachment into a compositional principle. Museum of Modern Art Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall, 1951 Museum of Modern Art
  58. 58. Ellsworth Kelly In the 1950s Kelly began working on multi-panel pieces comprising monochrome canvases arranged in a sequence suggesting a color chart Ellsworth Kelly, Red Yellow Blue White and Black, 1953 Art Institute of Chicago
  59. 59. Ellsworth Kelly The individual panels are completely without incident -- there are no subtle nuances of color or texture to distract from the straightforward presentation of color as color Ellsworth Kelly, Red, Yellow, Blue II, 1965 Milwauke Art Museum
  60. 60. “I am less interested in marks on the panels than the ‘presence’ of the panels themselves. In ‘Red, Yellow, Blue,’ the square panels present color.” Ellsworth Kelly Ellsworth Kelly, Red, Yellow, Blue II, 1965 Milwaukee Art Museum
  61. 61. Ellsworth Kelly Even the titles are detached and impersonal They are blunt statements of fact identifying the colors of the panels Ellsworth Kelly, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red, 1966 Guggenheim
  62. 62. Ellsworth Kelly, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red, 1966 Guggenheim “With so few extraneous contextual elements, the experience of the work of art becomes exclusively optical.” Milwauke Art Museum
  63. 63. Ellsworth Kelly Kelly’s preoccupation with color can be understood in relation to Clement Greenberg’s ideas about “self critical activity” and isolating specific properties of the medium Clement Greenberg looking at a painting by Ken Noland Image source: https://www.artnet.sk/Magazine/features/kostabi/kostabi9-11-18.asp
  64. 64. Ellsworth Kelly While Greenberg identified “flatness” as the most distinguishing characteristic of painting, the critic E.C. Goosen declared in 1964 that color was its most unique aspect “Color, disposed upon the two- dimensional surface . . . is the prime characteristic that distinguishes painting from its sister arts.” E.C. Goosen, 8 Young Artists, 1964 Ellsworth Kelly, Spectrum I, 1953 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Image source: http://www.tate.org.uk/tateetc/issue16/colourchart1.htm
  65. 65. Ellsworth Kelly Goosen argued that previous abstract painters failed to present color in its purified state Robert Motherwell, Elegy to the Spanish Republic, 1957-61 Museum of Modern Art
  66. 66. Ellsworth Kelly They used color symbolically or expressively rather than appreciating its intrinsic value “This confusion is common to the romantic mentality, which fails to appreciate experience for its own intrinsic value and is forever trying to elevate it by complications and associations. Red cannot simply be red, but must be lips, or blood, or fire. And even when it is accepted that red must be red, it must still be presented as dynamic, involved in tensions, in conflict with yellow or blue, etc. In other words, the romantic prejudice seeks everywhere to find ‘subject matter.’” E.C. Goosen, 8 Young Artists, 1964 Robert Motherwell, Elegy to the Spanish Republic, 1957-61 Museum of Modern Art
  67. 67. Ellsworth Kelly Kelly’s “color chart” approach to painting isolates color as a “fact” or “thing,” presented without symbolism or romantic allusion “The form of my painting is the content” Ellsworth Kelly Ellsworth Kelly, Spectrum I, 1953 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Image source: http://www.tate.org.uk/tateetc/issue16/colourchart1.htm
  68. 68. Ellsworth Kelly, Spectrum V, 1969 Metropolitan Museum Image source: http://www.artsjournal.com/man/2008/01/
  69. 69. Ellsworth Kelly Kelly believed that this straightforward presentation of color as color was a more honest approach to painting “Making art has first of all to do with honesty. My first lesson was to see objectively, to erase all ‘meaning’ of the thing seen. Then only could the real meaning of it be understood and felt.” Ellsworth Kelly Ellsworth Kelly, Spectrum V, 1969 Metropolitan Museum of Art
  70. 70. Post Painterly Abstraction Other artists who pursued a purified style of abstraction include Agnes Martin and Robert Ryman Robert Ryman Image source: http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/ryman/index.html# Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Agnes Martin Image source: http://www.greenfield-sanders.com/portraits/art
  71. 71. Post Painterly Abstraction Martin pursued a radically reduced style of painting that used the simple format of a grid with regular geometric patterns rendered in graphite Agnes Martin, Morning, 1965 Tate Gallery
  72. 72. Post Painterly Abstraction While such an austere format might suggest something cold and impersonal, the works are remarkably delicate and poetic Agnes Martin, The Tree, 1964 Museum of Modern Art
  73. 73. Robert Ryman Robert Ryman also explored a radically reduced style of painting, limiting his palette to white to focus attention on the materiality of paint and its physical support “It was never my intention to make white paintings,” he insisted in a 1986 interview with critic Nancy Grimes. “And it still isn’t. . . . The white is just a means of exposing other elements of the painting.” These “other elements” include varieties of paint (oil and acrylic) and supports (canvas, paper, and metals), as well as the process of binding them.” Guggenheim Museum Robert Ryman, Untitled, 1961 Museum of Modern Art
  74. 74. “Eliminating the unnecessary confusions of colour and shape, he explores the physicality of painting as an object, heightening his viewer's sensitivity to subtle variations of material, brushwork and attention to the edges.” http://www.haunchofvenison.com/en/ index.php#page=home.artists.robert_rym an Robert Ryman, Untitled, 1965 Museum of Modern Art
  75. 75. "If someone is seeing only white, then they're not really experiencing my paintings... the white is just part of the structure of the painting in order to make things visible. With white you can see the edges and the whole means that make up the composition." http://www.haunchofvenison.com/en/ index.php#page=home.artists.robert _ryman Robert Ryman, Untitled, 1965 Museum of Modern Art
  76. 76. “We have been trained to see painting as "pictures," with storytelling connotations, abstract or literal, in a space usually limited and enclosed by a frame which isolates the image. It has been shown that there are possibilities other than this manner of "seeing" painting. An image could be said to be "real" if it is not an optical reproduction, if it does not symbolize or describe so as to call up a mental picture. This "real" or "absolute" image is only confined by our limited perception.” Robert Ryman http://www.diabeacon.org/exhibs_b/ryman/ essay.html Robert Ryman, Surface Veil, 1970 Museum of Modern Art
  77. 77. “The wall plays an active role in the experience and meaning of Ryman's works . . . "If you were to see any of my paintings off of the wall, they would not make any sense at all . . . unlike the usual painting where the image is confined within the space of the paint plane," the artist has pointed out.” http://www.diabeacon.org/exhibs_b/ryman/ essay.html Robert Ryman at Pace Wildenstein, 2006
  78. 78. Robert Ryman Learn more about Robert Ryman by visiting the PBS Art:21 website http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/ryman/index.html

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