Category Archives: Abstract Expressionism

Franz Kline

By Matt Carey-Williams, London   


A Franz Kline brushstroke is like a racehorse at full speed. His fluid, dynamic marks positively gallop across his canvas, simultaneously epitomising the energy and vitality of his abstract gesture, whilst still affording a scaffolding of structure and meaning. Kline arrived at his mature meditations of black on white in the late 1940’s. He was inspired by the de Koonings who suggested he break through something of a creative lull by experimenting with a Bell-Optican projector.

Amplified details of objects were projected on to his studio wall and Kline painted over them in these daring, brutal strokes of black. He never looked back and only a handful of his paintings would ever again embrace colour. By focusing on such an arrant display of startling tonal contrast, Kline was empowered as a painter to properly explore motion in a very condensed, even visceral manner. And that ‘motion’, of course, was noted both physically and psychologically; both aesthetically and conceptually. Meryon from 1960-61 is a very late painting by the artist and is now in the Tate Modern.

Muscular, chunky, calligraphic verticals soar upwards, suggesting an architectural thrust. Meryon represents something of a homophonic pun; Kline here refers to the French printmaker Charles Meryon, who famously made etchings of medieval Paris and its newly sprawling architecture (I cannot help but see Notre Dame in this painting). He also alludes to the Pennsylvanian town of Merion — home to the extraordinary Impressionist and modern art collection of Albert C. Barnes — which was a fast-growing urban centre and provided a swanky, chi-chi contrast to his own humble town of birth, Wilkes-Barre, which was but a couple of hours away.

Meryon is thus an anthem for enterprising construction — both present and past — yet still its signification slides in and out of several pockets of meaning. Content becomes process; process becomes object; object becomes concept. Concept is the content, no matter how concrete and materialistic the painting feels.

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Above: Franz Kline (American, 1910-1962): Meryon, 1960-61. Oil on canvas, 235.9 x 195.6 cm. Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London

“Richard Pousette-Dart: Transcendental Expressionist,” By Jack Kroll

Richard Pousette-Dart, Blue Amorphous #4, 1962, oil on canvas. Photo: Kerry Ryan McFate
© ESTATE OF RICHARD POUSETTE-DART/ARISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK/KERRY RYAN MCFATE/COURTESY PACE GALLERY


“Richard Pousette-Dart: Transcendental Expressionist

By Jack Kroll


With Pace Gallery having opened a centennial exhibition of Richard Pousette-Dart’s work earlier this week in New York, we turn back to the April 1961 issue of ARTnews, in which Jack Kroll wrote about why the artist’s paintings had been unjustly lumped in with those of the Abstract Expressionists. Below, Kroll’s article follows in full. Unfairly overlooked among pioneer Abstract Expressionists, his show this month again reveals his unique vision of symbols in form. (“Richard Dart: Transcendental Expressionist,” By Jack Kroll, April 1961)


Richard Pousette-Dart’s work has always had a share of recognition, but it has never had the natural (and sometimes unnatural) superfluity of share which appears to be the portion of those artists who form the convivial—in the root sense of the word—academy of the age. He has never had one on the house from the Zeitgeist. Because he is a sensitive man, he is not unaware of the painfulness of this situation. Born in 1916 in St. Paul, Minn., Pousette-Dart has had at least fifteen one-man shows in the past twenty years and has had his niche in many representative exhibitions by type of art, age of artist and other such dragnet operations which automatically bring in most of the local suspects. But somehow he has never been invested with that perpetual aura of cultural candidacy which has sprung up around so many of his contemporaries. And since he is an excellent, idiosyncratic and particularly American painter, the reasons of this deserve looking into.

In 1951 the Museum of Modern Art held an exhibition of “Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America,” covering a period of almost four decades, or back to the Armory Show of 1913. The paintings were grouped under five headings; Pousette-Dart came under “Expressionist Biomorphic,” along with among others, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and William Baziotes. Among the characteristics of this kind of painting, as defined by Andrew C. Ritchie in the catalogue, were: “Irregular-shaped forms and calligraphic interlacings bearing, if any, a relation to organic or anatomical forms; composed usually in dynamic, symbolic or emotively suggestive relationships; often showing evidence of automatist or ‘doodling’ origin,” and its origins were Expressionism, Dada and Surrealism. The point is that if a similar exhibition were held tomorrow, Pousette-Dart would probably still be found among the denizens of “Biomorphic Expressionism,” while the unisolated but now historically decisive category of Abstract-Expressionism would claim his more powerful colleagues in that transitory collocation. In the 1940s there as a certain family resemblance between the works of Gorky, Rothko, Gottlieb and even Pollock, and Pousette-Dart; the explosion, the liquefying of an inchoate gaseous energy into the high-octane fuel of Abstract-Expressionism propelled the “significant” American painters right out of Pousette-Dart’s neighborhood and into a brand-new fighting-gang: most of the Sharks became the Jets.

Thus the wrenching violence of the historical trajectory has left Pousette-Dart “behind,” and has given him something of the appearance of a cantankerous and even “eccentric” American original. His work has been amazingly of a piece from the very beginning, and speaking about it, which is not easy for him, is made doubly difficult by an insistence on the part of the questioner concerning influences, dates, chronology, development, and the rest of the historical-analytical apparatus that many painters find quite logical and even congenial. He thinks of his work as unified by a consistency of impulse and motive, and he has no interest at all in the kind of technical discussion which separates the methods and techniques of painting from the matrix of concept and execution which to him is the indissoluble tissue of art. The inexorable growth of a sense of technical crisis, shared by so many of the most seminal American painters who are roughly his age, is something which is so alien to his outlook as to induce in him an almost agonized suspicion that is more than anything else a measure of his distance from their concerns.

Richard Pousette-Dart, Presence, 1956, oil on canvas. Photo: Kerry Ryan McFate ©2016 ESTATE OF RICHARD POUSETTE-DART/ARISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK/KERRY RYAN MCFATE/COURTESY PACE GALLERY

Richard Pousette-Dart, Presence, 1956, oil on canvas. Photo: Kerry Ryan McFate
©2016 ESTATE OF RICHARD POUSETTE-DART/ARISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK/KERRY RYAN MCFATE/COURTESY PACE GALLERY

Pousette-Dart thinks of himself as a religious painter—“religious in a passionate sense.” Harold Rosenberg, in his 1952 article in ARTNEWS which baptized the “American Action Painters,” spoke of the “new movement” as “essentially a religious movement.” But, although the work of both Pousette-Dart and the other Action Painters may be said to concern itself in one way or another with myth, the genetic and generative background of religion, the weight and force of these myths could not be more different. The myth of the Action Painters is the birth of a hero; the myth of Pousette-Dart is the life of an oracular poet. It is perhaps this difference which has given the contemporaneity of the Action Painters much more of a glittering cutting-edge than that of Pousette Dart; the cultural impasses and traffic-jams of our time have made the heroic aspect of the artist’s personality and operation much the most compelling one both for himself and his communicants. Pousette-Dart speaks of his work as a “reflection of being”—this phrase establishes both the closeness and the distance that separates him from the still-being-measured electrical charge of Abstract-Expressionism, which also has a great deal to do with “being,” but whose most representative works are attempted procreations of chancy “new” beings rather than reflections of a transcendent being beyond the arc of human engendering.

Cassirer, in Language and Myth, says: “Myth, language and art begin as a concrete, undivided unity, which is only gradually resolved into a triad of independent modes of spiritual creativity. Consequently, the same mythic animation and hypostatization which is bestowed upon the words of human speech is originally accorded to images, to every kind of artistic representation … The image … achieves its purely representative, specifically ‘esthetic’ function only as the magic circle with which mythical consciousness surrounds it is broken, and it is recognized not as a mythic-magical form, but as a particular sort of formulation.”

Richard Pousette-Dart, Yellow Amorphous, 1950, oil on canvas. Photo: Kerry Ryan McFate ©2016 ESTATE OF RICHARD POUSETTE-DART/ARISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK/KERRY RYAN MCFATE/COURTESY PACE GALLERY

Richard Pousette-Dart, Yellow Amorphous, 1950, oil on canvas. Photo: Kerry Ryan McFate
©2016 ESTATE OF RICHARD POUSETTE-DART/ARISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK/KERRY RYAN MCFATE/COURTESY PACE GALLERY

Pousette-Dart’s symbolic iconography is a language of such formulations. The success of his art will depend on the rightness of the esthetic strategy, as it deploys the rationales of the artist’s craft to intercept in loving forays the continuous flux of unconscious imagery, so that the “magic circle” is broken and re-formed in a constant choreography of raids on the transcendent. Pousette-Dart makes no preliminary sketches or drawings. “Each work is the whole experience from beginning to end within itself. My intention is never the surface but always the inner expression. I strive for the poetic, musical spirit of form through line. All of my work is an attempt to make a structure which stands up by the presence and significance of its own mystical meaning. It is a thing within itself, mirroring different things to different minds.” In this statement, originally referring specifically to a painting of the early 1950s, White Garden, we see clearly the transcendental, in an almost Emersonian sense, nature of Pousette-Dart’s art of religious passion, with its emphasis on self-sufficiency of the individual as an index of the multiple (and even inexhaustable) efficiency of the artist who successfully creates his mystical, musical structure. Pousette-Dart has said: “A painter can paint for the satisfaction of his soul, but he can mean it for everyone.”

White Garden is one of a number of paintings from the early 1950s which are “drawings of lines and rubbing with ordinary lead pencil and titanium white pigment on canvas. It is drawn over and over again until suddenly it contains itself to my feeling.” These paintings are perhaps the least successful he has done; they are reminiscent of the pitfall of the sentimentality of process into which Mark Tobey has now and again fallen, they are like the gestures, the outward forms, the rehearsals, of Pousette-Dart’s characteristic rituals without the final, celebratory fanfare of his exfoliated sacrament. Although Pousette-Dart has used white effectively as a costume for his symbiotic drama, he has achieved his most beautiful effects with color, for which he has a direct and natural feeling both as a “body” for his forms and as an emotional code for the terrain of his iconography. He conceives of the use of color as the central phase of a passage “from white to white,” the record of a metaphysical duration, a Dionysian traversing of poles, “like an area of ground where much dancing has occurred.” This reminds one of Eliot in the Four Quartets: “The complete consort dancing together”—Pousette-Dart has a similar sense of the materials of poetic gesture which can interlock to form a network of meanings in movement with the entire unity (in the case of the painter) shimmering in a sort of amniotic bath of color, that serves to loosen any adhesions of poetic correspondence which might have coarsened the symbology and weakened its plastic provenance. In Penetration, a work of 1958, the passage is from the comparatively uneventful neutrality of color at the periphery of the canvas inward to a “bull’s-eye” climax of yellows, reds, oranges, blues and mustard, with the building up of the paint giving an effect as of a pulverized mosaic, a fused, vitreous Rosetta Stone of lyric gnosticism, a simple calmly achieved success of Pousette-Dart’s quiet but unmistakably genuine reach for ecstasy in the apprehension of relationships among the incunabula of mythic mind.

Richard Pousette-Dart, Blue Scroll #2, 1958, oil on canvas. Photo: Kerry Ryan McFate ©2016 ESTATE OF RICHARD POUSETTE-DART/ARISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK/KERRY RYAN MCFATE/COURTESY PACE GALLERY

Richard Pousette-Dart, Blue Scroll #2, 1958, oil on canvas. Photo: Kerry Ryan McFate
©2016 ESTATE OF RICHARD POUSETTE-DART/ARISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK/KERRY RYAN MCFATE/COURTESY PACE GALLERY

The art of Richard Pousette-Dart seems very much in the line of American “home-made” eidolonian transcendentalism. He is a natural abstractionist in somewhat the same sense that Hart Crane was a natural composer of “abstract” poems—in both cases the complete saturation of the artist in words or signs, produces, through a kind of volitional automatism, a verbal or visual artifact which at its most successful has the compelling power release in the beholder the double sense of the procedural and substantive potency of images formed by the constantly functioning sense of the ineffable as it informs and penetrates the time-bound continuity of our senses. Th dangers of this kind of art, the hermetic numbness that may ensue when the reach fails and the forms parade in juggled dissonance rather than musical articulation, the aborting of the thrust toward complete visualization from the amorphous unconscious, the overly static fenestration of symbols when “family delight” overwhelms poetic renewal—these menacing whirlpools Pousette-Dart, an unusually prolific artist, avoids with remarkable frequency. He has a freshness of approach from picture to picture, a sometimes the approach can become almost an attack, as in a painting calls Savage Rose, where a massing of tall longitudinal forms of ravishing color, sweetened and savaged by the use of drip, bodies forth, not for only time in his work, an instinct for the barbarism of a complex naïveté, one might say explosively provincial, the heady ritual mead of a Whitman-esque Klee, with no desperation to know m to be, but only the unremitting desire to trumpet one’s primal love of the particularized universal.


Reprint from ARTNEWS, 9 September 2016, Copyright 2016, Art Media ARTNEWS, llc. All rights reserved.


“Altered States: The Etchings of Richard Pousette-Dart”
Extended through January 13, 2017
Del Deo & Barzune, New York
http://bit.ly/2hFAmz5

“Abstract Expressionism”
Until January 2, 2017
Royal Academy of Arts, London
http://bit.ly/2hFJaEV

“Richard Pousette-Dart: The Centennial”
Until Nov 18, 2016
Pace Gallery, New York
http://bit.ly/2hSiiof

Diebenkorn, Moment of Transition

Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #27, 1970, oil and charcoal on canvas, 100 x 80 inches, catalogue raisonné no. 4016.
©RICHARD DIEBENKORN FOUNDATION


“‘A New Kind of Spatial Understanding’: Jane Livingston on Richard Diebenkorn at a Pivotal Moment of Transition

An excerpt from the new catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work

By Jane Livingston


More than 20 years after his death, in 1993, at the age of 70, artist Richard Diebenkorn is in the spotlight. This week the Baltimore Museum of Art opens “Matisse/Diebenkorn,” an exhibition of more than 90 works by the two figures that looks at the French master’s influence on the Californian painter. In March the show will travel to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in an expanded form. Today Yale University Press releases the artist’s catalogue raisonné, a full accounting of his work, years in the making, replete with reproductions of little-known pieces. It has been edited by scholars Jane Livingston, who co-curated the artist’s 1997 retrospective at the Whitney Museum in New York, and Andrea Liguori, the managing director of the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. Below, an excerpt of an essay from the catalogue by Livingston, in which she precisely examines two works by Diebenkorn, the painting Ocean Park #27 (1970) and the drawing Untitled #15 (1970), both made at a moment when the artist was working in Santa Monica, California, and guiding his astonishing language into new and venturesome abstract realms. —The Editors [© 2016 ARTnews]


In 1966 Richard and Phyllis Diebenkorn moved from Berkeley to Santa Monica, a move that coincided with the end of their child-accompanied years. Diebenkorn had accepted a position on the art faculty of UCLA, whose department director, Frederick Wight, promised that his administrative duties would be minimal, and his relation to studio artist pupils, open-ended. (This promise proved to be unfulfilled; Diebenkorn would be embroiled in far more faculty and administrative issues than he’d bargained for.) For the first few months the couple rented a relatively modest bungalow near the ocean while they looked for a more permanent residence. (See the artist’s rendition of this house in cat. 3902.) They soon found a congenial Mediterranean-style house on Amalfi Drive in Santa Monica, in a canyon fairly close to the sea, and convenient to the UCLA campus. They would live there for twenty-one years.

The artist set up his studio in a semi-industrial neighborhood in nearby Venice. In those days an unpretentious, diversely populated seaside community, Venice was beginning to attract artists seeking affordable studio space, among them Robert Irwin, Ed Moses, Kenneth Price, and Billy Al Bengston. Its first glory days as an artificially planned “canal resort” were long past, and it had yet to become the fashionable community that the incursion of artists from the 1960s through the 1990s has made it now. Diebenkorn took over part of a second-story walk-up above an appliance store at the corner of Main Street and Ashland Avenue. The artist Sam Francis had long occupied the whole space, but when Diebenkorn moved in, Francis was no longer living or painting there full-time. (Occasionally Diebenkorn would be aware of Francis’s presence late at night, but the two artists, though cordial, didn’t really connect in their shared place.) Diebenkorn initially occupied a small section of the space that had no exterior light, so his first works there were small in scale, probably all drawings. After a few months, he took over a much larger section of the high-ceilinged building, with windows facing north and west, on one side offering a view of a parking lot.

One of the characteristics of these windows—metal-framed glass panels that opened outward, supported at their lower edge by a projecting bar—was their slanted angularity. The 1970 painting titled Studio Window—Ocean Park (cat. 4014) records one version of this view. More than one writer has claimed that the various shapes suggested by these windows—triangles, parallelograms, diamonds, rhomboids—reverberate in the prolonged series of drawings and paintings that Diebenkorn executed in this Ocean Park studio. There is truth in this myth of origin, but it has become overdetermined in the lore of the artist’s formal progression. Many, mostly unknowable, factors legislated the unfolding of the Ocean Park geometries.

The first year or more of Diebenkorn’s time in the Ashland and Main studio, where he would remain until 1974, was transitional in several ways. In the beginning he worked in a limited space. Although he knew that this was a temporary situation, he needed, as always, to quickly establish an intense working schedule. It took some time for him to properly set up two large wall-mounted canvas easels, and a separate space for drawings. Probably in part because of this relatively circumscribed spatial environment, many of the pictures he made in the first Ocean Park studio were representational, recording elements of his new environment, notably a few landscapes and views from windows, such as the rooftop scene depicted twice, in 1969 and 1974 (cats. 3995 and 4149). Often in the past Diebenkorn had relied upon familiar objects or views to inspire his compositions; now he began to use that technique in a new stripped-down, hybridized synthesis of the representational and the abstract. Studio Window—Ocean Park epitomizes the best transitional works of a period that was itself literally transitional. It is difficult to know the precise progression from representational to abstract work between 1968 and early 1970. What we do know is that within less than two years in the Ocean Park studio, the artist gradually made a full commitment to abstraction. It is as though, anticipating the expansion of both his physical space and his compositional format, he employed glimpses of his newly familiar surroundings to move into a radically changed thought process.

Diebenkorn’s advancement into a new visual language evolved gradually, fed by varying impulses. The window-structure reference wasn’t the only one he appropriated from his immediate surroundings; he also maintained a line of landscape-referent imagery. Throughout 1967 and 1968 the artist wrestled equally with ideas suggested by vistas and those associated with still life, or interior, views. The process of settling into, or fully defining, the necessary vocabulary for the Ocean Park painting series occurred well into the numbering of them. (From the outset, Diebenkorn kept track of these canvases with a simple numbering system. Not every numbered work ended up in the completed series, and at least once, a canvas was inserted with a ½ status.) Several early works in this great painting cycle represent replete forays into a geometric and chromatic territory that would become richer and richer over ensuing decades.

The Ocean Park series of paintings was well under way by 1968; such fully realized works as Ocean Park #9 (cat. 3981) and Ocean Park #16 (cat. 3987) of that year testify to how rapidly Diebenkorn mastered the format and underlying structure of this phenomenon. A seminal early work, in terms of declaring a new kind of spatial understanding, is Ocean Park #27, finished in 1970. This work exemplifies the artist’s fascination with the space-altering shapes following from the “slanted window” idea. But we sense many more layers of thought in the realms of chromaticism, translucence, and space/surface ambiguity. By this time Diebenkorn had announced the ongoing issues (usually expressed as tensions) that continued to engage him for the next decade, in both his paintings and works on paper: planarity (flatness) versus illusionistic space; chromatic dissonance versus harmony (always subtly played out); bold, wall-commanding size versus more intimate scale. (Diebenkorn said that his Ocean Park canvases were sized, at their largest, just within the boundaries of what his limbs could reach. This meant, in general, a vertical maximum of 100 inches and a horizontal one of about 82 inches.) A drawing from the same year, Untitled #15, offers some intriguing comparisons between the artist’s approaches to large canvases and to intimately scaled works on paper.

Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled #15, 1970, charcoal and gouache on paper, 24⅞ x 18⅞ inches, catalogue raisonné no. 4044. ©RICHARD DIEBENKORN FOUNDATION

Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled #15, 1970, charcoal and gouache on paper, 24⅞ x 18⅞ inches, catalogue raisonné no. 4044.
©RICHARD DIEBENKORN FOUNDATION

Ocean Park #27 is a classic case of a fully resolved large-scale oil painting whose subject might at first be interpreted as flatness itself. Although he wasn’t one of the artists Clement Greenberg cited to illustrate his theory that flatness was essential to the new “integrally literal” nature of modernism, Diebenkorn was naturally aware of the contemporary zeitgeist. Flatness and literalness entered into the ascendant critical vocabulary of the 1960s and ’70s, made quintessential by Greenberg and the artist Frank Stella. For them, illusionistic space in painting was simply inadmissible. Diebenkorn—deliberately or not—responded to the argument by declaring his own allegiance to Stella’s (and Ellsworth Kelly’s) insight: he embraced a certain decorativeness (another Greenberg dictum) in the project of composing large, flat canvases. But there are subtle differences in Diebenkorn’s flatness and decorativeness. The Ocean Park paintings would never fully enter into the realm of American post–Abstract Expressionist painting as adumbrated by Greenberg and others, for they are about something entirely different from the large, “literal” canvases of Stella or Kelly or Helen Frankenthaler or Morris Louis. Just how this difference is calculated remains one of the mysteries of their enduring ambiguity and power.

In his abstract works, Diebenkorn rarely tipped his hand as to any conscious preoccupation with spatial illusionism—he preferred to imply rather than spell out his permutations of push-and-pull. Some of the impetus for the ubiquitous reworking in his abstract paintings and drawings may have to do with this wish for perspectival ambiguity. It is for this reason that Untitled #15—essentially a black-and-white (or properly, black-and-gray) composition—claims a nearly unique place in the artist’s oeuvre. Here we may glimpse an explicitly worked out “three-dimensional” composition that almost carries an aura of coded messages to the viewer. It might hint at some of the enigmas of the artist’s work of the early to mid-1970s. Both the spatial character of this drawing and the nature of its media are more complicated than they first appear. This is not just a drawing in charcoal and gouache; it incorporates a small element of collage, often a sign that a drawing has a special place in Diebenkorn’s intellectual and aesthetic hierarchy.

Although Diebenkorn was careful with his art supplies, he was not obsessed with the purity or compatibility of his physical media. Although he had favorite brands and colors and used all the tried and true artist’s materials—ink, gouache or watercolor, pencil and charcoal, or standard acrylic (“synthetic polymer”) paints on paper, and oil-based pigments mixed with turpentine on canvas, on which he sometimes also incorporated charcoal—he wasn’t so much punctilious as pragmatic in his choices. He was always willing to experiment, to combine, to discard and then reuse. Most of all, he never hesitated to layer his media. The problem of identifying exact physical substances when cataloguing his thousands of drawings reflects the artist’s pragmatic application of whatever media worked for him in whatever he was looking for in a given drawing or painting on paper.

Our decision to compare this particular canvas and drawing is suggested by their different use of both illusionistic space and—more importantly—the shapes that were part of Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park vocabulary. If anything, geometric blocks, in myriad configurations, are even more important than space in many of the Ocean Park works, whether on canvas or paper. It is instructive to ruminate on the artist’s endless use of the parallelogram, cropped or complete, or the triangle; it is equally useful to recognize certain linguistic symbols. Although the X in Untitled #15 has a centrality that it is rarely given in any canvas, the more we study these two compositions, the more we perceive their structural relationships. Both utilize a truncated parallelogram; in both, the horizontal axis is anchored a little below center. It is superficially easier to compare like with like, but perhaps more revealing to contrast canvases that are insistently flat and paintings on paper that are tantalizingly, illusionistically three-dimensional. The drawing offers clues to the derivation of the ubiquitous, one-sidedly angled form—it comes from classical methods of suggesting the third dimension with line. And yet, as we clearly see in Ocean Park #27, the artist uses these methods in the service of a new kind of abstract painting, one that eschews illusionistic depth.

Richard Diebenkorn’s command of spatial complexity in an abstract matrix—gleaned in large part from his years of painting interiors, peopled or not, tabletop still lifes, landscapes literally observed and partially imagined, and figures in almost unimaginable number—is elaborately played out in his later abstract compositions. To understand the fascination of the Ocean Park works, both paintings and works on paper, we must fathom some of the preparation that informs them, and contemplate their spatial fundaments.

From RICHARD DIEBENKORN: THE CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ, edited by Jane Livingston and Andrea Liguori, published by Yale University Press in October 2016. Reproduced by permission.


Reprint from ARTNEWS, 18 October 2016, Copyright 2016, Art Media ARTNEWS, llc. All rights reserved.

“Abstract Expressionism” — London @royalacademy

“Abstract Expressionism”
September 24, 2016 — January 2, 2017
Royal Academy of Arts, London

“These are not paintings in the usual sense; they are life and death merging in fearful union. As for me, they kindle a fire; through them I breathe again, hold a golden cord, find my own revelation.” (Clyfford Still)

Long overdue, this first major survey of Abstract Expressionism since 1957 features paintings, sculpture and photography by Pollock, Rothko, Still, de Kooning, Newman, Kline, Smith, Guston and Gorky, among others. Postwar anxieties, Beat poetry, jazz, new demographics, long stifled voices pulsing with a new and vibrant energy — such were the cultural seismic shifts of the time which gave rise to this new “in your face” visual creative force known as Abstract Expressionism. Monumental in scale and intended to spur viewer interaction on primal levels, it marked well the climate of the day. And powerful it remains.

‘When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It’s only after a sort of “get acquainted” period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.’ (Jackson Pollock)

— Jules Cavanaugh

*Featured image: Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956): Blue poles (Number 11), 1952. Enamel on canvas, 212.1 x 488.2 cm. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.


© 2016 I Require Art Studios, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

“Women of Abstract Expressionism” at the Denver Art Museum

Helen Frankenthaler (1928 –2011): Nature Abhors a Vacuum, 1973. Acrylic on canvas, 103-1/2 x 112-1/2 inches (262.9 x 285.8 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA. © Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc.

“My pictures are full of climates, abstract climates. They’re not nature per se, but a feeling.” (Helen Frankenthaler)

 

“Women of Abstract Expressionism”
June 12 – September 25, 2016
Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado

 

Too often, female artists are overlooked in art history, frequently overshadowed by their male counterparts. This show goes a long way to remedy some of this oversight. Women of Abstract Expressionism is the first Exhibition to present, at the same time, twelve of these remarkable female Abstract Expressionist artists. Over fifty major works are included — the artists: Mary Abbott, Jay DeFeo, Perle Fine, Helen Frankenthaler, Sonia Gechtoff, Judith Godwin, Grace Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Deborah Remington, and Ethel Schwabacher. All of these artists worked during the 1940s-50s, on both the East and West Coasts, and produced some of the most exciting Abstract Expressionist works ever created.

Following the Denver Art Museum, the exhibition will travel to the Mint Museum, Charlotte, in October 2016 and the Palm Springs Art Museum in February 2017.

— Jules Cavanaugh

Joan Mitchell (American, 1926-1992): Untitled, 1957. Oil on canvas, 27 x 57-1/2 inches (68.6 x 146.1 cm). Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, LLC, New York, NY, USA.

Joan Mitchell (1926-1992): Untitled, 1957. Oil on canvas, 27 x 57-1/2 inches (68.6 x 146.1 cm). Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, LLC, New York, NY, USA.

Helen Frankenthaler (American; Abstract Expressionism, Lyrical Abstraction; 1928 –2011): Western Dream, 1957. Oil on canvas, 70 x 86 inches  (177.8 x 218.4 cm). Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY, USA. © Estate of Helen Frankenthaler/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Helen Frankenthaler (1928–2011): Western Dream, 1957. Oil on canvas, 70 x 86 inches (177.8 x 218.4 cm). Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY, USA. © Estate of Helen Frankenthaler/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Elaine de Kooning (American, Abstract Expressionist, 1918–1989): Bullfight, 1959. Oil on canvas; 77-5/8 x 131-1/4 x 1-1/8 inches. Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado, USA. © Elaine de Kooning Trust.

Elaine de Kooning (1918–1989): Bullfight, 1959. Oil on canvas; 77-5/8 x 131-1/4 x 1-1/8 inches. Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado, USA. © Elaine de Kooning Trust.

Helen Frankenthaler (American; Abstract Expressionism, Lyrical Abstraction; 1928 –2011): Elberta, 1975. Acrylic on canvas, 79 x 97 inches. Private Collection. © Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Helen Frankenthaler (1928–2011): Elberta, 1975. Acrylic on canvas, 79 x 97 inches. Private Collection. © Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Lee Krasner (American, Abstract Expressionism, 1908-1984). Untitled, 1948. Oil on pressed wood. 18 x 38 inches (45.7 x 96.5 cm). The Jewish Museum, New York. © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Lee Krasner (1908-1984): Untitled, 1948. Oil on pressed wood, 18 x 38 inches (45.7 x 96.5 cm). The Jewish Museum, New York. © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Helen Frankenthaler (American; Abstract Expressionism, Lyrical Abstraction; 1928 –2011): Nature Abhors a Vacuum, 1973. Acrylic on canvas, 103-1/2 x 112-1/2 inches  (262.9 x 285.8 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA. Image: Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. © Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc.  “My pictures are full of climates, abstract climates. They're not nature per se, but a feeling.” (Helen Frankenthaler)

Helen Frankenthaler (1928–2011): Nature Abhors a Vacuum, 1973. Acrylic on canvas, 103-1/2 x 112-1/2 inches (262.9 x 285.8 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA. Image: Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. © Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc.

Perle Fine (American, 1905–1988): Child's Play, 1973. Watercolor on paper, 19-3/8 x 22-1/2 inches (49.2 × 57.2 cm). Berry Campbell Gallery, New York, NY, USA. © Perle Fine. © AE Artworks, LLC.

Perle Fine (1905–1988): Child’s Play, 1973. Watercolor on paper, 19-3/8 x 22-1/2 inches (49.2 × 57.2 cm). Berry Campbell Gallery, New York, NY, USA. © Perle Fine. © AE Artworks, LLC.

Joan Mitchell (American, 1926-1992): Bracket, 1989. Oil on canvas (triptych), 102-1/2 x 181-3/4 inches (260.35 x 461.35 cm). The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. © Estate of Joan Mitchell. Photo: Ian Reeves.

Joan Mitchell (1926-1992): Bracket, 1989. Oil on canvas (triptych), 102-1/2 x 181-3/4 inches (260.35 x 461.35 cm). The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. © Estate of Joan Mitchell. Photo: Ian Reeves.

Perle Fine (1905–1988): Summer I, 1958-1959. Oil and collage on canvas, 57 x 70 inches (144.8 x 177.8 cm). McCormick Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA. © Perle Fine. Image: McCormick Gallery, Chicago, © AE Artworks, LLC.

Perle Fine (American, 1905–1988): Summer I, 1958-1959. Oil and collage on canvas, 57 x 70 inches (144.8 x 177.8 cm). McCormick Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA. © Perle Fine. Image: McCormick Gallery, Chicago, © AE Artworks, LLC.


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