Saturday, August 12, 2017

Robin's Catalogs

I have been gifted with a large box full of old exhibition catalogs.

The donor was Robin Mumford, a friend and art consultant. 
It looks like a great opportunity to continue my art education.


This will be an ongoing project over the upcoming year(s) so this post will continue to grow.

Stephen Pace (1918-2010), 1960

Stephen Pace, 1959 (detail)

Makes for an interesting comparison with an ABX painting done 55 years later by a much older man:

Jim Dine, "Coming from Darkness, I Hear You Laugh" (detail) 2016

Stephen Pace, 1978

What a shocker!  He went figurative and he liked to look at attractive young women.

But maybe not so surprising --  from the very beginning of his career, he was a good friend of Milton  Avery.

Milton Avery

Stephen Pace

Not very subtle -- but what a delight!  By the way, this kind of design can also be executed on a digital drawing tablet - which is how my father, Pace's contemporary,  worked in the decades that followed:

Richard J. Miller, "At Charlie's Place", 1999

(a few more are shown here )


Patrick Heron (1920-1999)    (1958)

A painting is not something which exists in order to convey meaning.  On the contrary, “meaning” is something which  attaches itself to that  independent autonomous object”...   1958 

As the above quote might suggest, Patrick Heron was committed to non-representational painting. And as you might note, he was as eloquent in writing as he was in painting.

And yet -- he still seems to be painting still lifes -- i.e. discrete objects in space -- even if they are not recognizable as anything else.

Patrick Heron, 1986

Patrick Heron, 1995

In later decades, he seems to have focused more on gouache on paper rather than oil on canvas.

“To make oneself available to previously uncharted rhythmic movements, suggestions, and devices – this is the great idea” .. 1987

That certainly seems to be what he is doing -  though one might say that every painting, other than an identical copy, is exploring uncharted territory

A painting has a certain identifiable speed of execution which it communicates – 1985

He offers the example of Van Gogh's brushwork.  I cannot tell if it was faster or slower than Monet's -but perhaps Heron could.

His emphasis on speed of execution might suggest that not much planning went into his painting - it was all improvisatory.  Apparently, he liked the idea of action painting, that was trending more then than now.

So one might expect his execution to feel more exciting than his design -- which I find more pleasing than earth shaking.

“ I hate all symbols in painting… I love, instead,  all images”  -- 1963
Perhaps I should make the same confession - even if symbol and image cannot be completely separated.

Symbols can be annoying -- especially if you're unsure of what they were intended to represent. A symbol can be misinterpreted - but an image is just what it is.


John Little (1907-1984), "Phobos", 1958

Some nice finds in an exhibition called "Abstract Expressionism and its Legacy"

Who but an American could paint the above? "Phobos" is the personification of fear in ancient literature, but fear, for me, comes in shades of gray.  This painting feels more like an afternoon at the ball park.

John Little, "Dark Odds", 1976

He gives his paintings such grim titles -- but  to me, they feel like worlds in which I would like to live.

Some nice quotations were borrowed for the catalog:

“The big moment came when it was decided to paint… just to paint. The gesture on the canvas was a gesture of liberation, from Value - political, aesthetic, moral” ..Harold Rosenberg, 1962

The American vanguard painter took to the white expanse of the canvas as Melville’s Ishmael took to the sea. On the one hand, a desperate recognition of moral and intellectual exhaustion; on the other, the exhilaration of an adventure over depths in which he might find reflected the true image of his identity”.. Harold Rosenberg, 1952

Rolph Scarlett (1889-1984), 1951
(the title may be "Constellations" or "Black white and gray with  sand drip"

Here's an artist whose reputation seems to have been much greater in 1950 than it is today. He hasn't even made it into  Wikipedia yet.

Perhaps he is considered too derivative.

Rolph Scarlett, "Yellow Bar", 1942

He once had 50 paintings in the Guggenheim museum -   the above is the only example now showing on their website.

 John Ferren  (1905-1970) , "Blue Space", 1957

His rap sheet says he was interested in Buddhist and oriental philosophy - but gives no specifics.

It would not be surprising, however, if the above were done by a Japanese artist.

It kind of resembles a calligraphic character.

John Ferren, "Paris Abstract", c.1935

Found this image online as posted above  - though the Newark Museum shows it rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise.

It's gorgeous - and not surprising that the artist began as a stone carver.  He's into arranging discrete shapes, not creating an atmosphere.

John Ferren, 1932

The creative forces of life at work.  Perhaps he  was a Taoist.

John Ferren, 1951

Here's a wonderful piece taken off Wikipedia -- it feels like an interior with a view of a city seen through a window.

Judith Godwin (b. 1930) "Parrot",1953

Quite a painting for a twenty-three year old who came from Virginia to make it in the Big Apple.
"See how much fun life can be?" ---- that's what it seems to say

Judith Godwin, "Pink Sky Pond", 1960

This piece was included in the catalog - a nice landscape.

Judith Godwin, "Capricorn" , 1990

Dynamic - heroic - it looks like an aerial view of someplace exciting.

Judith Godwin, "Parfait", 2000

This elegant desert makes for a nice comparison with the parrot painted 40 years  earlier.

She seems more self conscious of pictorial elements as she balances them:  the black cross, the blue diagonal, the red squiggle

Judith Godwin, 1962

I am drawn to cheerful stuff -- but it would be wrong to ignore Godwin's darker paintings of tension, anxiety, and struggle - done, perhaps, in response to Franz Kline.

Frank Bowling (b. 1936), Kaieteurflow, 1980

Frank Bowling, 1961

Frank Bowling, 1996

Frank Bowling, 2011