Tag Archives: abstract art

John Walker

I remember when there was a vogue for the work of John Walker. I didn’t like it because at that time he was using the same form over and over, which he called “Alba,” and said was derived from Goya. … Continue reading

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John Eisler

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Rozanova’s Career

Olga Rozanova, in her short life, had a very distinguished career, quite apart from the quality of her work, which is high. After the revolution she became a civil functionary, and traveled around the country setting up art schools and … Continue reading

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Space of Collage

A while back I mentioned Briony Fer’s book on abstraction and the special place she gives to collage at the origins of the practice. I picked it up again to refresh my memory and one of the points has to … Continue reading

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Taste

When in the mood I enjoy going on about Stella. I don’t like everything he does, but the funny thing is I usually come around. The Exotic Birds used to seem pretty bad, but now….good. The Brazilian Series used to … Continue reading

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Style of Work

What makes Stella so productive (and you have to investigate to find out how much, because most of the work is not widely known) is a two part process. First lots of planning and preparation, then head long improvisation and … Continue reading

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Blue Poles

Another contentious late Pollock is Blue Poles. Some people call it an outright failure. I think it was failing, but he saved it the same way he saved an earlier picture, now in the Guggenheim collection in Venice. Alchemy is … Continue reading

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Portrait and a Dream

Talking about possibilities in late Pollock—he undoubtedly went through difficult periods, as we all do, but to my eyes the work of the mid-fifties shows no slacking off. If he could have lightened up a bit I’m sure he would … Continue reading

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Convergence

Keeping on with the idea of looking at Pollock’s later works as individual pieces, not as members of a series, Convergence is one of the late large abstractions. Standing in front of it at the Albright-Knox the first thing that … Continue reading

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Patience

An artist never has no reason not to wait. One has to let the work emerge and why rush it? Time in the ordinary sense, as something to be measured, has no meaning in art, and the value of activity … Continue reading

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More Complex Form

One couldn’t come up with an artist further from the concerns of modern day, formalist inclined abstraction than George Eliot—her novels are all about moral challenges. I can hardly express my esteem for what she did, and who she was. … Continue reading

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Plants and Animals

If some readers are not convinced by my description, in the previous post, of Krasner’s work as ruled by a plant metaphor, I submit these two works, which have titles and colours to match that theme. But it’s interesting that … Continue reading

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Crisis Moment

Krasner’s unique style is made of strongly drawn circles, arcs and ellipses. She has a kind of compulsion to go around with her arm. In her case it’s not a limitation and more than a habit—it’s an expressive language that … Continue reading

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Lee Krasner

As I said in an earlier post, Lee Krasner gave Pollock’s Easter and the Totem to the MoMA, and I think that was a measure of her regard for that work, which otherwise is not much celebrated. The conventional wisdom … Continue reading

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Easter and The Totem

I don’t think I can explain why I like this piece. It’s an example of Pollock’s late figurative work, coming after the Black Paintings and after Convergence and Blue Poles, contemporary with The Deep and Portrait and a Dream. I … Continue reading

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Kojève

Recently read a great article by Boris Groys on Kojève. Never read Kojève myself but I know that he taught Hegel to the surrealists, and I learned a lot about that from a very good book about surrealist objects by … Continue reading

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Outside the Border Fence

Following from the previous post, I think it helps a lot to travel, and not just to Miami or Basel. I talk about this in my book. But though you can take your body to different places, it’s hard to … Continue reading

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Berger’s Choices

A recent article by Ben Davis about the death of John Berger demanded a reply—sadly comments were not possible. Davis made the point that some of the artists Berger admired were obscure, non-canonical. My answer would be why does Ben … Continue reading

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Repeating Patterns

As in all improvisation, patterns tend to recur. In fact, the more open and free the improv, the more subject it is to repetition. This is something I’ve learned from music, and this is why preparation helps a lot. Art … Continue reading

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Abstract Order

Following on from the previous post, Stella’s manner in the late prints especially, but also in many of his reliefs, is to be vivid, crazy, overloaded and loud. That’s what puts a lot of viewers off. It’s a style and … Continue reading

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Formal Principle

I’ve been trying to work out exactly what kind of order Stella is aiming for, looking at the prints and late paintings. I think that to avoid an ordering principle is probably, for Stella, a kind of abstraction. The topic … Continue reading

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Time and Change

Many of the things I say on this blog are widely recognized. They are not always expressed the same way. Actually, I don’t know if “widely recognized” is the right phrase—it might be more like conventional wisdom of the past. … Continue reading

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Olga Rozanova

Been looking at great collages by Rozanova. They have that beautiful freshness of beginnings. For her, abstraction was an open future, so she had no idea how to value work like this. It was all an experiment. We can decide … Continue reading

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Art for the Age of Trump

Thinking about constructivist collage—in other words, art of a revolutionary period—makes one wonder what kind of art is right for today. Does my Collage #10 really measure up, or is to too much Kutesy-Klee and Kandinsky-Kute? Are the animal/organic and … Continue reading

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Collage at the Beginning

Years ago, in her book on abstraction, Briony Fer suggested that collage was at the origin of the practice. I didn’t know what importance to attach to that idea, but I liked it. Her examples were collages by the Russian … Continue reading

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Two of a Kind

From Wodehouse’s Joy in the Morning: ‘By an unfortunate coincidence, his lordship will in a few moments from now be proceeding to the potting shed to confer with Mr. Chichester Clam.’ ‘Chichester Clam?’ ‘Yes, sir.’ I shook the head. ‘I … Continue reading

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Another Russian Philosopher

I’m always grateful to Boris Groys, who has opened so many horizons with his wit and penetration. He has also brought attention to lesser known Russian thinkers, and there are a lot of them worth looking into. One that attracted … Continue reading

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Collage #10

This largish (48×48″) collage follows the same pattern as #s 5&8—it has a rectangle within the rectangle, a plane within the plane, a picture within the picture. It’s over an old painting in enamel on wood, and I was afraid … Continue reading

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Progressive Critique

The following comes from a piece by McKenzie Wark: “Contemporary art…loves three strategies that portray nothing so much as the forms of accumulation its current or emerging patrons enjoy. Firstly, there is outsourcing, where the art is made by somebody … Continue reading

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Size and Importance

Further on from the previous post—if Stella was part of a larger, more general response to abstract expressionism, I think the generally accepted understanding of that response has been too limited. We usually hear that it was a reaction against the … Continue reading

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