Category Archives: Italian Art

Those Who Wait

The theme of waiting deserves a few posts. I originally thought I could make one, or even two, but it’s too rich of a topic. What is Fontana waiting for? His slashes are titled “Attesa,” which I would translate as … Continue reading

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Carla Accardi

Carla Accardi was another artist I discussed on the blog several years ago, along with fellow Italians Marisa Merz and Giulio Paolini. In the book she inaugurates the formalist, or “formalist,” chapters. She should be better known on this side … Continue reading

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New Beginning

The blog is starting up again, and it’s gratifying to know that readers I had before are happy to see it come back. The occasion is the imminent publication of my book, my first book. Artists don’t have to write … Continue reading

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Mythological Images

Following on with Brigid Brophy’s thoughts about Tiepolo, I’m particularly struck by her implicit linking of eighteenth century rationalism with the “critical” sensibility of the present. In the last sentence of the quote in the earlier post she talks about … Continue reading

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Brophy on Tiepolo

This time a slightly longish quote from Brigid Brophy, but she reaches me by appreciating Tiepolo, something not so common in the sixties, or even now: “The religious tradition in which painting grew up was always indulging in religion’s habit … Continue reading

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Brigid Brophy

Inveterate reader Jacob Wren turned me on to Brigid Brophy‘s book about myth and social psychosis, Black Ship to Hell. I agree with what she says, and mostly with how she says it, but despite the attractive title I don’t … Continue reading

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Italian Old Masters

Too much has been made of Stella’s interest in Caravaggio round the time of Working Space. It’s pretty hard to find anything in Caravaggio useful to abstract art, and in a way his very strongly felt space is a bit … Continue reading

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Two-Sided Painting

Judging from the site statistics, there has been a lot of interest in my posts on Vedova. The idea of the many sided picture may have arrived, forty five odd years after Vedova’s Plurimi. I think it’s worth pursuing. This … Continue reading

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Alfons Schilling

Alfons Schilling used to spin his round canvases on the wall and throw the paint on while they spun. The date is a shocker. A common response today would be that he anticipates Damien Hirst’s Spin Paintings, but I think … Continue reading

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Abstraction as Child of History

Any working definition of abstraction that I am likely to come up with will be a description of my own paintings—that can hardly be avoided. Recent intense looking at Frank Stella has provoked some ideas, but his work is not … Continue reading

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Tiepolo today

As I said in the previous post, I don’t necessarily agree with Stella’s assessment that Tiepolo is more distanced and restrained than the great Renaissance ceiling painters. I have included a couple of Tiepolo ceilings on this blog. Stella probably … Continue reading

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Stella and the Past

Stella reveals a lot about his ambitions in the following comments on ceiling painting: “Pietro da Cortona, Fra Pozzi and even Tiepolo met the challenges of architectural decoration in a more measured, distanced manner than their predecessors. They worked the … Continue reading

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Alighiero Boetti

A latecomer to Boetti’s work, I have no expertise in it. Right now I’m looking at this grid piece, “Niente da vedere niente da nascondere,” or “Nothing to see nothing to hide.” The title really adds something, and bears thought, … Continue reading

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The Milliner’s Workshop

Maybe the most ambitious example of the interlacing style of cubism is this large piece by Picasso. That the labor represented is mimicked in the manner is interesting enough. But to show the potential of the interlacing method this piece … Continue reading

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Plurimi

It’s worth it to spend more time on the comparison in the preceding post, which doesn’t need much commentary. Plurimi is a made-up name. Two views of the same piece, which has a crystalline quality—enclosing parts of the viewing space … Continue reading

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Emilio Vedova

The Plurimi of Emilio Vedova are clear precursors of Stella’s relief paintings, and the differences between the two groups of work are revealing. Vedova’s works had an origin in sets for an opera by Luigi Nono that he had done … Continue reading

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Pink and Blue

I remember Shep and I lying on our backs on the floor of the Ca’ Rezzonico in Venice, staring up at a large Tiepolo ceiling in cotton candy pink and baby blue. That work, which was utterly strange to me … Continue reading

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Backstory Without End

Was just reading about the work of Paul Sietsema, and my thought was—this work has a lot of backstory. Of course there are different kinds of backstory.  Sietsema seems to stick pretty close to painting, and to the history of … Continue reading

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Shaped canvas 4

I’m happily surprised to find that this blog can be very productive for my work. I open my mouth to express what I believe, and find that I don’t believe it any more. I’ve been too doctrinaire about the organic … Continue reading

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A space within space

Thinking about ultimate literary reductions sends my mind, by an uncertain chain of associations, to a piece by Dean Hughes. Matthew Higgs did a show at the Or Gallery in Vancouver a few years ago that included a piece by … Continue reading

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Fontana

Impeccable vulgarity.

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Persistence of desire

Reduction in Fontana means eroticism without any idealization, a base genital sexuality. Just the facts and the elemental drive, which presumably has its own reasons and rhythms. But the following quote gives another perspective: “The final stage (the stage that … Continue reading

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Formalism, conceptualism and the death of desire

At the conclusion of Thomas Hardy’s novel The Well-Beloved, the hero, a successful sculptor of the Alfred Gilbert type, loses all interest in art in his later years: “On another afternoon they went to the National Gallery, to test his … Continue reading

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Pre-conceptualism

It’s hard to know exactly what people get from art; certainly their own testimony has to be taken with skepticism. But I’m contemplating the view that aesthetic pleasures, sensations, satisfactions, feelings—whatever they might be called, however they might be characterized—are … Continue reading

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Stately verticals

I can defend my constant harping on the need to reject the grid for a new departure in abstraction. Maybe not totally new, but new enough. It’s a critique of a common, in fact widely accepted feature of existing abstract … Continue reading

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Baroque what?

Frank Stella’s brilliant book Working Space, one of the all time best things ever written by an artist, is fundamentally a meditation on the work of Caravaggio. It’s not about the relevance of Baroque art to the art of today, … Continue reading

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Times past

I have to apologize to my growing readership that personal matters have prevented me from posting lately. Actually, personal matters have kept me out of the studio, and the energy to write derives from the work. Still intend to discuss … Continue reading

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Carla Accardi Part 2

Talking about unboundedness reminds me that my earlier post about Carla Accardi has a  mistake. Her standing rolls of “Sicofoil” are not tubes, they are rolled up sheets, so they are not unbounded in the horizontal dimension, and they have … Continue reading

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Marisa Merz Part 3

After the eruption of light into Gordon Matta-Clark’s “de-architecture,” and the surprising continuity of his work with cubism, I want to revisit Marisa Merz’s Scarpette and revise my claim in an earlier post that because they are woven they carry … Continue reading

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Between Two Voids

To return to the quote from Italo Calvino in an earlier post, he further says “The writer, too, would like to make works like this, because he does not believe in the self, or if he does believe in it … Continue reading

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