Tag: abstract expressionism
For the past hundred years, abstract art has been a dominant mode of expression in America. But in its character, most of our abstract painting and sculpture pays small fealty to the concepts of those pure abstractionists, who hold that the work of art should be a completely meaningful object in itself, of solely esthetic significance, hermetically sealed against all other associations.
In Europe, as George Hamilton pointed out in the catalogue of his “Object and Image” exhibition at Yale, this atlitude is historically associated with the early modern movemen in its heroic break with tradition and is diametrically opposed to a more recent trend toward an abstract but evocative imagery which reflects man’s consciousness and inner being. In America,
ew even of our pioneer abstractionists could be called purists. The latter began to appear here only in the 1930’s (many from abroad), and while they still form an active and vital group, they have always been a minority. Our tendency, more marked than ever today, has been toward kinds of abstraction which draw on observed reality to create, variously, a conscious imagery, an unconscious imagery or, at the least, a kind of organic and “natural” teleology of form.
It is our purpose here to determine exactly what the relation is between American abstract, art and one traditionally important aspect of observed reality — nature. The inquiry is not in any sense a reactionary back-to-nature thesis. It is, rather, an effort to understand the character of the abstract vision and especially the personal attitudes and methods of various abstract artists in dealing with nature.
These terms are used in their widest and commonest meanings: “abstraction” to describe any art not clearly based on recognizable visual reality, “nature” as the all-embracing universe about us, the tangible world of land and water, the intangible world of light, sky and air, the eternal forces of germination, growth and death which make up the cycles of life and season — with man and man-made things alone excluded.
It is apparent that this is but part of a larger question, the relation of’ abstract art to all experience. Still, it is a significant part, for the multitudinous aspects of nature are inescapable, a part of every man’s environment. Since the Renaissance they have been the timeless themes of art, and there is ample evidence that they continue to move, and sometimes perplex, many abstract artists just as powerfully.
By focusing on this single but universal area of experience and avoiding the moral and social problems inherent in man and his works, we can perhaps dig deeper and hope to reveal certain truths about the abstract artist’s approach to reality, which will be valid in other areas as well.
Such a restriction does not imply dehumanization, for the artist has always found in nature compelling symbols of man’s own “nature,” especially of his relation to the organic world. And even when symbolism is absent, nature inevitably assumes human meaning as it passes through the artist’s eye, mind and emotions to his canvas. In Balcomb Greene’s words, “One humanizes nature even as he sees it.”
Photorealism is the genre of painting bassd on making a painting from the use of a photograph. The term is primarily applied to paintings from the United States art movement that began in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
As a full-fledged art movement, Photorealism evolved from Pop Art and as a counter to Abstract Expressionism as well as Minimalist art movements in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States. Photorealists use a photograph or several photographs to create their work of art and it can be argued that the use of a camera and photographs is an acceptance of Modernism. However, the blatant admittance to the use of photographs in Photorealism was met with intense criticism when the movement began to gain momentum in the late 1960s, despite the fact that visual devices had been used since the fifteenth century to aid artists with their work.
The invention of photography in the nineteenth century had three effects on art: portrait and scenic artists were deemed inadequate to the photograph and many turned to photography as careers; within nineteenth and twentieth century art movements it is well documented that artists used the photograph as source material and as an aid—however, they went to great lengths to deny the fact fearing that their work would be misunderstood as imitations; and through the photograph’s invention artists were open to a great deal of new experimentation. Thus, the culmination of the invention of the photograph was a break in art’s history towards the challenge facing the artist – since the earliest known cave drawings – trying to replicate the scenes they viewed.
By the time the Photorealists began producing their bodies of work the photograph had become the leading means of reproducing reality and abstraction was the focus of the art world Realism continued as an on-going art movement, even experiencing a reemergence in the 1930s, but by the 1950s modernist critics and Abstract Expressionism had all but minimalized realism as a serious art undertaking. Though Photorealists share some aspects of American realists, such as Edward Hopper, they tried to set themselves as much apart from traditional realists as they did Abstract Expressionists. Photorealists were much more influenced by the work of Pop artists and were reacting against Abstract Expressionism.
Gabriella Benevolenza, a young woman of Italian-Finnish descent was born in Helsinki, Finland in July, 1968. She was raised in various countries finally settling in Alsace (France), where she lives and paints. She studied “Arts plastique” from 1992 – 1995. She is now a valued member of AIDA (Artistes Independent d’Alsace).
Always very “constructed”, her semi-abstract work is a search for transparancy and colour balance: light and the variations of adding different types of material. She uses plaster of paris, metal pigmented paints, various types of cloth, emery paper or printed collage material.
Gabriella Benevolenza always uses collages and sometimes a square stencil. She gives rythme to her paintings by using horinzontal and/or vertical lines. On a symbolised landscape, a horizontal division may suggest houses, a small harbor, bottles or a simple forms and colors harmony, that no title helps the viewer with orientation.
The artist, herself, often remarks that: “ I may not see anything”
The most important is not the title, but the harmony of the complete color palette : from warm colours to bright orange, smooth and delicate greys, astonishing beiges that illuminate a wide space. A red point may bring , in true freedom, the final touch.
American Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock has long been recognized as a leading figure of this so-called “New York” school of painting. His fame skyrocketed after his death at age forty-four in a car crash on eastern Long Island. That gruesome death gave the Abstract Expressionist movement unprecedented public recognition, and conclusively transformed Pollock the man into Pollock the myth. But in doing so, it also obscured his specific achievements (and limitations) as a painter and thinker.
What link remains between the achievements of the early 20th century masters and the solutions proposed by those painters who have come of age (artistically speaking) and produced their maturest work since 1945? What is the relationship, for example, between Cubism and Action Painting? Or between Fauvism and French Abstract Impressionism? The words of Matisse quoted above point to the nature of this relationship, while the common denominator of all the investigations and experiments of 20th century art may be defined in the words of Mondrian.
“All modern art is distinguished by a relatively greater freedom from the oppression of the subject. Impressionism emphasized the impression of reality more than its representation. After the impressionists, all art shows a relative negation of nature’s aspects; the cubists delivered a further blow; the surrealists transformed it; the abstract artists excluded it.”
Freedom of expression, then, with respect to the subject, this is the commondenominator of art in our time, in our century. But this does not mean that the artist has ceased to express the shifting yet permanent sum of features and factors that go to make up the human situation in all its complexity. The fallacy of superficial detractors of non-figurative art is to suppose that it signifies a more or less complete abandonment of reality; on the contrary, it probes into reality more deeply than ever before.
This is as it should be. The artist cannot divorce himself from a state of society which, on the one hand, is profoundly disturbed by doubts and anxieties, but which, on the other, has achieved a great deal in the way of technical advances and social betterment. Why should painting reject new conceptions of time, space, matter and energy (and the new sensibility perforce bound up with those conceptions) when the other forms of artistic expression accept them?
Already in Proust we read of the painter Elstir, that his “effort to exhibit things, not as he knew them to be, but in accordance with those optical illusions of which our first glimpse of a thing is compounded, had led him to emphasize certain laws of perspective, thus rendered peculiarly striking, for his art was the first to disclose them.” And what is “le temps retrouvé” of the final volume of Proust’s masterwork, but a new dimension of the mind, a new sensibility, transcending the measurable, chronological lapse of years, days and hours? It is not for nothing that we find Proust writing in 1919 of “the great, the admirable Picasso.”
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