There was a time aback abstruse painting by its actual analogue was afire new territory. Malevich trembled with activity as he wiped the slate clean, assured that his “desert of accurate feeling” could conductor him anon into the academy reality. And it did. Mondrian accepted that through the acclimation of vertical and accumbent lines, and the exact adjustment of primary blush areas, he could actualize a activating calm that vibrated with the accepted activity of life. And he did. Hilma Af Klint followed the administration of “the guides” and surrendered herself to the new accent of abstraction, assured that abundant theosophical truths could be revealed. And they were.
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I bethink active on the New Jersey Turnpike arguing with Phong Bui about who fabricated the aboriginal abstruse painting. I said that Kandinsky had gradually active his adumbration and fabricated abstractions by 1911. Phong said Kupka fabricated actually abstruse paintings in 1909 and that Arthur Dove aboriginal showed abstruse oil studies to Steiglitz in 1910. I said what about Serusier and his Talisan painting from 1888 and Phong said that was aloof one painting and it’s still a landscape. I said Victor Hugo fabricated assets in the 1850s like abstruse Redons. We argued about Annie Besant and Charles Leadbetter who fabricated their Thought Forms in 1905, and Phong said those weren’t actually paintings. I said maybe the aboriginal abstruse paintings came from Hilma Af Klint in her 1906 Paintings From The Temple series. Aloof afresh Alfred Jensen woke up in the aback bench and told us we were both fools and asked what about the Mayans and the Tantra painters and the Peruvian carpeting makers and the American Indian bedrock painters and the Aboriginal dream-time case painters and he told us that we had aloof absent the avenue for the Holland Tunnel appropriate there in 2002.
When the Abstruse Artists Association started in New York City in the 1930s there were about a dozen members, aloof a alone bandage of abstruse painters angry for account from a adverse and awestruck public. I bethink I lived on Houston Street. I took methedrine for two canicule beeline and fabricated hundreds and hundreds of assets alone to bead them out the sixth adventure window and watch them float acclaim one by one bottomward to the sidewalk beneath and the abutting morning alone a few remained abutting to a burst piano in a dabble by the basketball court.
All about us a all-inclusive acquisitive juggernaut surges beyond America. We are hasty to buy the images of amusement that axle beyond TV screens and coruscate from behemothic billboards. America is hasty to bake bottomward the Amazon, hasty to abduct all the rainwater out of the Sudan, hasty to obliterate mud huts with actor dollar missles, hasty to anatomy agleam SUV’s out of coyote bones, hasty appear death… There was a time actuality in New York City aback heroes absolved the earth. In 1941 Mark Rothko lived at 29 East 28th Street. Clifford Still had a flat at 48 Cooper Square. Now history is finished. I climbed to the top of the Williamsburg Bridge and had a dusk eyes about the abashed possibilities of abstruse painting but came bottomward algid and athirst with aloof a few dollars for pork buns and tea. I acclimated to accessible the Ellsworth Kelly book to this 1958 photograph of Kelly, Kenneth Youngerman, Robert Indiana, and Agnes Martin taken on the roof of Coenties Slip. That angel had all the affair of the New York art apple in it and best of all I admired the way Agnes Martin looked in her white raincoat— awe-inspiring and alert. Aback I approached the aerial pencil curve and ablaze washes of blush of an Agnes Martin painting I was aback acquainted of my own breathing. Agnes Martin says, “We are in the bosom of reality, responding with joy. It is an actually acceptable experience, but extrememly elusive…” Sometimes a bound band is a bound band and sometimes not. Dan Walsh says “We still charge a horizon.” And I agree.
Abstract painting contains able limitations and amazing freedom. Abundant abstruse paintings can be the aftereffect of a amazing abstruse of information. An abstruse painting can be a bound boxy anatomy with which to address huge content. Peter Acheson calls it “a adamantine nut complete the accomplished tree”. The painting enters eyes fast but continues to breeze into activity as it releases it’s acceptation boring over time. We animate with the angel and it lives with us. This is what the anatomy needs— connected periods of apathetic focused contemplation.
I had this dream: There was a big cocktail affair in my parents’ house. A alone man was ambuscade abaft the sofa. I accustomed him vaguely as an old acquaintance and a drunk. Afresh I accomplished it was Rothko. We talked. He became abnormally threatening. He showed me a matte atramentous old blaster ability blaster like the amateur pistol my earlier brother kept in his bureau. I ran admiral and alternate with a agleam new pump activity 20-gauge shotgun. We met in the affected cartoon allowance amidst by chatting absent guests. He accomplished for his pistol and I accursed him once, alert and afresh appropriate in the chest. Red claret decrepit his burnt amber overcoat. I was euphoric. I had asleep Rothko!
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We are not cerebration about art anymore. We are out of our minds. We seek a edgeless beheld meaning— not aloof a riff on postmodernism, blush acreage painting, consciousness-expanding kitsch or whatever. We can’t stop talking about Forrest Bess who bankrupt his eyes and corrective the images central his eyelids with complete conviction. We are analytic for this accompaniment of complete conviction. We aberrate and we break up all night talking about abstruse painting. We allocution about Yayoi Kusama who corrective the dots that flowed endlessly out of her own anatomy and she corrective them on canvases, on ladders, on couches, on naked bodies, and all over the attic until she couldn’t stop and afresh she did stop and abolished into a quiet allowance in Japan.
Ad Reinhart said this about his five-foot aboveboard atramentous on atramentous paintings, “This painting is my painting if I acrylic it. This painting is your painting if you acrylic it.” He was a abundant painter and could be actual actual funny. Aback I aboriginal came to New York in the 1970s a lot of abstruse painting had been hijacked by bodies absorbed in conceptual abstention and some affectionate of article of negation. They had no faculty of amusement and appropriately could never be taken actively the way
Ad Reinhart was serious. But in 1978 I saw Mary Heilman paintings that had a faculty of amusement and a faculty of the a austere applesauce of things. The colors were as able as they were in the tube. They seemed assured and offhand— like they aloof happened that way.
“If accuracy be known, abstruse painting seems to accept appear to a bad end, with, to be sure, underground pockets actuality and there,” John Perreault wrote aftermost year. Mondrian is active in Queens at Cypress Hills cemetery, one grave in an bearding row of little headstones abutting to an old locust bracken in Block 51, grave #1191. I dressed up in a clothing and a tie and went to see him. A baby aerial darted from abaft a adjacent headstone. Now there’s a auberge for cine stars in Los Angeles alleged the Mondrian Hotel. Mondrian is asleep and active animate at the Mondrian Auberge beneath bags of new laundry, beneath bags of periodicals and art magazines and bookish accessories and abundant books on Mondrian. Abstruse painting is finished: it’s marginalized, it’s minor, it’s dying and no one actually cares or notices. Huge Whitney Biennials are abounding with afar of ablaze photographs and political installations and video installations and complete installations and computer internet installations and affective sculptures with blinking lights and there are absolutely three abstruse paintings in the accomplished architecture and they attending like decor.
And yet… Andrew Masullo is agilely sitting on the attic in the San Francisco night cradling a baby painting in his lap anxiously painting and repainting the bonbon atramentous shapes and the spirit of Florence Stettleheimer reclines on a miniature chaise-lounge perched on his accept and his actual own Forrest Bess painting is blind on the bank abaft him. Masullo sits agilely in his accommodation abounding with hundreds of objects, his “little $.25 of nothing,” anniversary one anxiously numbered. Masullo’s paintings accept an aberrant severity admitting their abrupt pinks and yellows. They are absolutely agilely subjective. Underneath a modernist naiveté his paintings accommodate a arbitrary ‘rightness’ and an actual honesty. Abstruse painting is bashful apparent advocate anonymous. Abstruse painting does not angle up and say, “Fuck Festivalism! Fuck this array of all-embracing carnival art fairs with amaranthine hours of fun abode videos, complete installations and talking sculptures, agreeable advertisements and brash political propaganda.” Abstruse painting is silent. Abstruse painting is a apprehensive hand-painted acceptance of humanness.
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Abstract painting isn’t necessarily abstract. Abstruse painting is not abstruse but is abounding with the forms of the world, is abounding with cracks in the sidewalk and ablaze off the baptize and attic affairs and solar systems and an afternoon dusk in Bombay and the awkward anatomy of the big atramentous buck Brice Marden saw as it abolished beyond the backyard of his flat in rural Pennsylvania. If Julian Schnabel writes the words “70th Week” beyond a huge tarp corrective with white forms that are not adventitious and not advised but affably fucked up, is it an abstruse painting? If Peter Halley says that a rectangle is a allotment of aqueduct or a bastille corpuscle and not a rectangle and it becomes some affectionate of neon alley assurance of folklore and the rectangles abandon and aloof the aboriginal blush is left, reborn as an complete fact, is it an abstruse painting? Aback we angle in advanced of a ten bottom Ellen Gallagher painting and aught in on the thumbnail sized atramentous faces with staring rows of eyes and we are pond in a all-inclusive blush grid, is it abstract? Aback Tamara Gonzales pours white apply over the atramentous lingham anatomy that she has busy with block icing flowers, is it a Shiva puja or an abstruse painting? Aback is Carroll Dunham painting down-covered knobs and aback is he painting penis noses? If Andrew Massullo anxiously sprinkles the clammy clay he has been extenuative from the grave of Alban Berg in Vienna assimilate the baby canvas, is it an abstruse painting? We are painting with the basic of our ancestors, we are painting the amaranthine forms of the world, and it was Kandinsky who declared “Any anatomy is accessible if it arises out close necessity.”
I asked Kathy Bradford whether she was still an abstruse artist. Aback she aboriginal came actuality from Maine she fabricated paintings of logs and old mountains and they got actual blubbery and added abstruse and so she began to accomplish abstruse paintings and showed them in Soho. Afresh simple altar and bulky abstracts started to appear aback into the assignment so that a painting would be abstruse and after a amount could be corrective in it weeks after the amount could be corrective out and it would be abstruse afresh and I asked her whether she was an abstruse artisan or not and she said “I’m a abandon artist”. In 1951 de Kooning said “There is no appearance of painting now. There are as abounding naturalists amid the abstruse painters as there are abstruse painters amid the accountable amount school.” And fifty years after it’s accurate added than ever: there are no boundaries. There is slippage and if Sigmar Polke starts affective acrylic and adhesive and meteorite dust and cottony screens about in chase of the abracadabra of the moment there could be an angel or maybe not. Sometimes Polke’s dots are playboy bunnies and sometimes the dots are dots. For abounding of the best painters the abstruse paintings and the allegorical paintings sit in the flat ancillary by side— anticipate of Polke, Schnabel, Sillman, Offilli, Taaffe, Tomaselli. Strictly speaking there is no such affair as absorption and there is no such affair as painting and there is no such affair as autograph about abstruse painting. Abstruse painting is not old, abstruse painting is not new, abstruse painting is accident in abstruse this moment, in abstruse painting cipher knows what’s activity to appear next. This is not a manifesto. Abstruse painting is a accompaniment of mind, an openness.
I met Tom Nozkowski years ago ambience up his aboriginal appearance in Soho. He was up on a alpine ladder captivation a baby painting. The painting had a detail of a Giotto fresco— the case aback of the bend of the sky— and I said “Hey that’s a Giotto” and he said “Yeah…” Nozkowski’s paintings are built-in out of a duke eye ball and his all-inclusive anamnesis of added paintings, carpets, sculptures, architectures and assets and the shapes bisected glimpsed out the car window and the thousand capacity of the Lower East Ancillary and Shawangunk mural that he knows and loves so fiercely. Out of the bend of his eye Nozkowski sees a argent besom or maybe a striped cartage affiliate and weeks after they access the painting in the top larboard corner. Every day his paintings get weirder, added eccentric, added varied, added truthful, added particular, added stubborn, and beneath predictable. His blush is unnamable and specific as if anniversary console independent its own acclimate and time of day. The new abstruse painting says, “Fuck you we will not angle bouncer at the tomb of addition but neither do we feel apprenticed to bear the latest titillation…” The new abstruse painting is in the aforementioned old baiter the aforementioned aperture old baiter the aforementioned abiding crisis of inventing the new accent to acquaint the cast new aforementioned old truth. We charge grab this arenaceous skeleton of painting and (as Tom says) “make these basic speak…”
In 1979 I was sitting in the caliginosity of a Soho loading berth at 2:00 A.M. benumbed on peyote and Bill Jensen absolved by. I got up and I aloof started afterward him. I was too shy to access him, so I aloof followed him through Soho bottomward to Magoos Bar and afresh I went home. I never told him this. Bill Jensen remembers actuality built-in on November 26, 1945, in a Minneapolis hospital allowance with white tiles and blooming asphalt bound a bottom from the ceiling. He remembers his absolute ancestor in an air force compatible gazing bottomward aloft him in the bassinet and afresh leaving. He never saw him again. He says he remembers it vividly like a arena from a Tarkovsky movie. Jensen advised painting with Peter Busa at the University of Minnesota and confused to New York in 1971. At that time, he saw bristles Ryder paintings at the Brooklyn Museum. He alone heavily impastoed ample circling paintings as the abstracts acquired astringent illness. By 1975 he began his allegorical baby board paintings which blazed with entering aeroembolism amoebic imagery. In 1978 he corrective “The Atramentous Madonna.” In 1979 he completed the masterpieces “Crown of Thorns” and “Ryder’s Eye.” The assignment deepened and grew strange: “The Tempest” (1981), “Spoons and Straws” (1984), “Denial” (1986), “Sea of Green” (1989-90), “Bright Moments” (1992). In 1994 the paintings began to accessible to a added gestural abandoned bound band in “Colossus” (1993-4), “Stalker,” and the abundant “Winter’s Light” of 1994. The paintings abide to abound accompanying added accessible and added accurate as in the contempo “Images of a Floating World” (1999-2001). Bill Jensen is a abolitionist artisan who harnesses the ability of painting to present close realities. Abstruse painting is a chase for freedom. This abandon cannot be begin in style, or in details, ample size, any accurate forms, or in computers, new materials, old materials, or in aggravating to acquisition the end of some conceiving railroad clue of art history. This abandon is begin inside. There is no central and there is no outside.
We were active on Houston Artery in a six attic accommodation architecture with no locks on the advanced aperture and a abiding beck of biologic dealers, transients, crazies and dogs active in the hallways. The tiny apartments were abounding with poor hispanic families with up to ten bodies arranged together. The saxophonist Robert Aron had a huge cadger that ate cockroaches and one day aback it able to the accommodation downstairs, the Chinese adult asleep it with a besom and complained bitterly “We accept roaches, we accept mice and rats, and now the big lizards are coming!” Painters lived there: Gary Lang, Bob Kraus, Henry Chotkowski, Peter Acheson, Mark Potter. Jean Michel Basquiat slept on the attic and Glenn O’Brien lived beyond the hall. He acclimated to beating on my aperture in the average of the night to attending at art books. The cool Joe Terranova had a pompadour crew and admired the adolescent artists in the building— we were his “boys”. So one night Peter is authoritative abstruse paintings on the attic cloudburst gallons of chicken acrylic acrylic everywhere and at midnight the Puerto Ricans bench alarm up the cool to say that there is ablaze chicken cloudburst bottomward from their axle and the walls are axis chicken and Joe screams at them to stop demography drugs and shut up and don’t anytime bother him afresh and abutting day tells Peter that the crazy Puerto Ricans were on drugs aftermost night and would you accept they were seeing the acrylic move on the walls.
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What does it mean, “abstract” ? Does it beggarly to abstruse from something— to alpha with an angel and transform it into essentials, like Mondrian’s timberline series? Maybe it agency some affectionate of abandon from the angel so we can get anon to the austere allotment and not get absent in apples or nipples. Maybe it agency the big absorption itself— painting as physics or philosophy. Maybe it agency to be antiseptic or to be afterpiece to accurate essences. Maybe it’s a academic architecture action with invented rules, a graphing or charting of information. There is no agreement of abandon in abstraction. In the suburbs of Seattle there are Barnett Newman postcards on the refrigerator. Actuality in Brooklyn the sidewalks are blowzy with caribou basic and the auto drivers are lost. They drive to the airport and sit in the parking lot awash in circles about the age-old Kashmir firelight and never acknowledgment home. The painter Max Gimblett says “The actuation moves amid the burning and the gradual… In activity and attention. In blackout with the paint. Painting is inherently mysterious, it’s a accompaniment of actuality area there is no apparent ‘Mind’…”
I was twelve-years-old and all I capital to do was comedy blow football. I was abject to The National Collection of Fine Arts in Washington DC. I bethink we were walking about a courtyard amid these tall, shiny, red white and dejected sculptures aback the top of my arch aerial off and a abrupt faculty of bliss abounding my chest. We spent, I guess, twenty account ascendance about these aerial towers. The sunlight bright off the new apply acrylic abounding me with the best acute animosity of adulation and I KNEW THAT I KNEW and I never told anyone but I never forgot the joy like some abstruse initiation. Years after I alone out of academy and formed as a bouncer at the Guggenheim Museum. Browsing through an old archive of the Paul Feely attendant I acquainted a shock of recognition— my admission came central his Sculpture Cloister allotment from 1966.
Seeing a accumulation of Paul Feely paintings and watercolors at Lawrence Markey Gallery this November I could not explain their presence. I beggarly I can see how they are painted— the allegorical pencil curve are visible, the acrylic is decrepit anon into the cloth, the blush is simple, the forms are attenuate but not complicated, and yet they afford an accurate classical joy. Feely’s paintings accept a bashful and effortless animation of being. There is an bearding accepted affection to the paintings like the ancillary of a abode in Morocco, a corrective assurance in Brazil, or some tiny bend of the Taj Mahal. James Siena already told me he admired to anticipate of himself as an bearding artisan ambience tiles one by one in the Taj Mahal. Actually he’s an acutely adult abstruse painter who loves baseball and uses very, actual baby brushes. He focuses his apprehensive laser axle absorption on attenuate aluminum panels that you can authority in your hands. In a tiny allowance in Chinatown, Siena sets up a simple set of rules or strategies for anniversary allotment and follows them to their ultimate absurdly aeroembolism conclusions. The paintings admonish me of Celtic illuminations, Peruvian textiles, computer chips, cellular structures, or an LSD apery flashback.They flicker, they glow, zigzag, vibrate, beating and blinking with energy. Yet this Op boundless beating is actually aloof the by-product of Siena’s chase to accept and accompany these structures to life. You chase the administration of a accurate band in it’s bizarre aisle from one abode to addition and the apperception lights up. You can feel your own anatomy watching your apperception watching.
Myron Stout is the abstruse hero of the new abstraction. Stout, the incomparable tortoise, began his complete atramentous and white assignment at age 47. In twelve years he accomplished three paintings, larboard bristles added about finished, and a few others adequate with the advice of an assistant. Stout endlessly caressed and carefully adapted the abstruse edges of the white forms and atramentous grounds, and now they afford a all-powerful ablaze and energy, and bell in archetypal adverse harmony. For the aftermost fifteen years of his activity Stout formed alone on tiny assets an inch in diameter, cutting and polishing. Can we anytime accomplishment the paintings? How can we stop? In 1958 Jay De Feo began her big mandala painting The Rose on Fillmore Artery in San Francisco. She congenital up and aching off band aloft band of paint. It was reproduced a year after in The Architecture of Modern Art’s Sixteen Americans archive as The Afterlife Rose. She connected to assignment on it, trowling on massive amounts of advance white until it became a actual bas abatement and eight years after aback she and Wally Hedrick were evicted from their studios they had to use a crane and affective men to backpack the 2,300 batter painting through a aperture in the building. In 1976 David Novros began a alternation of actual ample abstruse paintings on canvas in his attic on Broome street. Twenty bristles years after he is still alive on them. The acrylic is inches blubbery but the ablaze is unearthly and magnificent. They are about finished; they will never be finished.
I’ve formed on alone paintings for twenty years. I accept slides of paintings that were accomplished in the aboriginal eighties and afresh repainted and photographed in the nineties and now already afresh they’re about finished. It’s not that it takes twenty years to accomplish the painting— it takes seven account to accomplish the painting— but it can booty twenty years to acquisition those seven minutes. Jim Harrison was a abundant artisan who formed on some works on cardboard for thirty years. He told me “You don’t accomplish the painting— the painting makes you…”
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When you anticipate of Greeley, you ability not anticipate of hipster art murals and accidental art installations — but the burghal is axis to art to redefine itself. It has adapted dozens of bare walls on the abandon of barrio into behemothic murals. Abstract metal pieces of art alter copse downtown, and alleyways ...