Thoughts from a recent trip to Europe (Spain, France, & Italy)
My trip covered some of very best art sites in Barcelona, Spain, Southern France, and Italy. Naturally, the viewing was magnificent and as well quite varied. My viewing combined ran the full spectrum; from Byzantine and Baroque, to Modern, to Modern and Contemporary fine art.
One of my favorite stops was the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, Spain. The show contained a large compilation of works from both Picasso & Dali (Salvador). Although they were not always the best of comrades, they did however find a way to feed off each others energy from time to time in their careers.
As displayed in the show, Salvador Dali (though not widely known for this), did attempt works in the realm of cubist-geometric art a few years after Picasso made his mark in that world (circa 1910). Most of Dali’s attempts in this style of work came in the early to mid 1920’s, towards the end of the major push of this new art called “Cubism.”
The show made some comparisons between the two artists during this art time period. Although Dali will never be thought of as a cubist or geometric painter moreover, his works in those realms are still quite interesting and have genuine merit relative to the period.
“Portrait of Dora Maar” P. Picasso – 1937
I have taken discussion and comparison to this Picasso work shown today (above) “Portrait of Dora Maar” which Picasso completed in 1937, well past the prime Cubism period (circa 1906-1928). It still however makes solid reference to a geometric based style of representational abstract work. As you can see the face is broken in various geometric components, and then reconstructed back again. There are multiple angles in which to view and enjoy the work, some duplicitous. It is a given then that there is a multitude of unique and differing takes on the “overall” statement of this piece. This all depends on how you decide to “look at” and ultimately then “perceive” the work as a whole.
To compare work and styles, I have taken a particular geometric-cubist painting of my own (shown below). You will quickly see that I have broken her face and torso into geometric-cubist elements and then reconstructed her back into the whole. Elements in both the foreground and background have been “de” and “re” constructed to create more a linear-geometric platforms in which work rests.
The painting is loaded with mood and emotion, – much like Picasso’s “Portrait of Dora Maar” above. There is a sullen nature of expressiveness to both of these works, though my piece (with her eyes closed) makes a greater reference to the nature of contemplation, – rather than the overt expression.
I truly love this style of work and admire Picasso for being one of the founding leaders of Cubism and Geometric based figurative abstraction.
I think fine art appreciators and patrons of the world can see what both Pablo and I are enjoying while creating these types of work.
Breaking the human form into into geometric components and then putting them back together in such fashions as to create a new and more powerful energy for human representation. In cubist and geometric figurative art, the emotional and psychological messages delivered usually ends up to be far more intriguing than through when delivered through traditional means.
Redheaded Woman in Distress Series, ~ Piece I ( 24×30″)
Artist “Oskar Gross” ~ Instructor to Joan Beringer Pripps (My Aunt)
My aunt Joan had a good deal of local art study in Wisconsin, from a child to young adult. After that, she spent several years continuing her studies in Chicago, IL under the tutelage of well established artist Oskar Gross (inset below). Oskar had moved to Chicago from Vienna in his early 30’s to pursue his own art career (which he did), but also ended up doing some teaching additionally. It was with him that my aunt Joan fine-tuned her abilities and became a superior portrait artist and as well an accomplished realist-impressionist painter.
b. Vienna, Austria, 1871–d. Chicago, 1983
Oskar Gross was born in Vienna, Austria. His father, Rudolph Gross, was a prominent architect and engineer who wanted his son also to be an architect. Gross showed early talent in art rather than architecture, however, and enrolled in the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. He was successful at school and began a lucrative career as a portraitist, opening an expensive studio space in Vienna, though he was not able to maintain it. He was elected a full member of the Association of Viennese Painters and Sculptors, and worked as a cartoonist for a comic paper in Munich. In 1898, he won a mural competition for the Hungarian State Pavilion, which was being designed for the Paris Exposition of 1900. Using violet ink, he designed a motif of Hungarian peasants with horses, and the overseers liked it so much they redesigned other parts of their Pavilion to conform to his mural.
Impressed by this design, Chicago architect Daniel Burnham invited Gross to come to Chicago to decorate some of Burnham’s buildings. Although reluctant to leave Vienna, Gross made the trip to Chicago in 1903 at age 32 and decided to settle there. He was able to function better than most foreign visitors because his mother, who had lived in New York City for five years as a child, had taught him English. He was financially successful soon after his arrival, but Burnham—who had found him many commissions—died in 1911. And when department stores entered the building decoration trade, Gross was out of work.
Gross first exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1911 and began to associate more with painters rather than architects, developing a camaraderie and lifestyle similar to the one he had led in Vienna, where he had been associated with the Vienna Secession. He set up a studio in Chicago and devoted himself to figure and genre painting. During his time in Chicago, he belonged to the Arts Club, Cliff Dwellers, Chicago Painters and Sculptors, and the Palette and Chisel Club. He died there in 1983.
Although most of his portrait commissions were from members of the upper class, Gross was much more interested in working class subjects. For example, his small oil on board, Maxwell Street Market, painted in the 1920s, shows an old man arranging his wares amidst the busy street market glimpsed over his shoulder. Gross applied the oil paint with thick impasto to render the dark and heavy form of the vendor, who leans toward his female customer. She wears a head scarf but otherwise bears few distinguishing facial features. Gross’s interest in depicting the urban poor became especially relevant after the 1929 stock market crash.
Bulliet, C. J. “Artists of Chicago Past and Present: No. 59: Oskar Gross” Chicago Daily News, April 4, 1936.
Gross, Oskar. Pamphlet file P02283. Ryerson Library. Art Institute of Chicago.
Artist Image: Oskar Gross / believed to be a self-portrait. Prairie Styles.
Understanding Geometric Art ~ June 14th, 2013
Being an avid reader and follower of many of the philosophical art principles to geometric abstraction offered to us by Wassily Kandinsky, I can easily find an ideal truth in this following statement from him….”Because the straight line results from the initiative of a single, unopposed force, its domain is that of the lyric. When two forces are present and thus enter in conflict, as this is the case with the curve or the zigzag line, we are in domain of drama”
Even in this day Geometric Artwork needs to be better understood (and respected) for its universal message. They tell a great story…of power, of control, and of drama. It relates to us the constant presence of dynamic forces pushing and pulling on all matter in the entire universe (animate or inanimate) and at all times. This dynamic is powerful and relentless. Life’s triumphs and struggles are all contained within one fine geometric piece. I suggest you spend some time and really look for this next time you are face to face with one ~ I guarantee it will reveal these things to you.
May 1st, 2013:
Recently, – two students from the Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario, comprised a comparison project (and then presentation) relevant to a particular abstract painting of mine. The project also delves into the specific methodology used when in creating this type of work. This painting style or methodology, has been (and still is -) in use today by a short list of modern abstraction artists. The process was (and is -) used by acclaimed artist Mr. Gerhard Richter. I myself (modern artist, Matt Zedler), continue to employ it* (the process*) in various works of my own. These current works of mine use an evolved version(s) of this painting methodology, and in widely varied ways – depending on the piece. Now, Georgian College graduate art school student, ~ Mr. Dillion Edge, is attempting some similar works based from similar aspects of this process, but using some of his own variances.
The following is a summary of that process study and art the comparison project. It was conducted by Mr. Edge and fellow student Ms. Samantha Daigle (copy by Dillion Edge):
“Gerhard Richter to Matt Zedler to Dillon Edge“
I Sought out Matt after being assigned a presentation in a Modern Art history course at Georgian College, Barrie, Ontario. I chose to contact him and after a speedy response, I was able to prepare a presentation with a classmate (Samantha Daigle). The project and following presentation received a combined “A” grade, where we compared Gerhard Richter with Matt Zedler, and Matt Zedler to Myself (Dillon Edge).
“I pursue no objectives, no systems, no tendency; I have no program, no style, no direction. I have no time for specialized concerns, working themes, or variations that lead to mastery. I steer clear of definitions. I don’t know what I want. I am inconsistent, non-committal, passive; I like the indefinite, the boundless; I like continual uncertainty.” (Gerhard Richter)
Gerhard Richter is a diverse artist, working with multiple disciplines, such as; editions , abstraction, photo Realism, drawings and water colour. On the whole Gerhard is undefinable by art movement. Both by his own accounts and in writings and interviews but also by viewing his body of work over time.
However in his later career he is considered to be a part of the New European Painting Movement, which is classified as painting with post traumatic traces of war and with the use of newer technologies like Xerox and other digital media.
Matt Zedler follows in the footsteps of Abstract Expressionism but bursts out in his own stylized post painterly abstraction. Matt takes many of the newer methods of painting like scraping, pulling paint, and building texture with paint to the the next level ~ while applying these principals into his work. At a view you can break Matt’s work into two basic categories; Geometric Abstraction and Line Work, and Patterned Impressionism.
Dillon Edge though still a student at Georgian college works with Geometric Abstraction and Tactile Abstraction working with patterns and hard edge painting styles in order to demonstrate.
Structure and reoccurring patterns of worldly objects. He uses any tool to apply paint including, cloths, pallet knives, brushes, cardboard, assorted objects and tape to create new and exciting ways of painting, found objects are often used with or on his larger and mixed media piece.
Gerhard and Matt share some similarities in their painting styles. Matt had mentioned to me, “I understand the comparison (Richter vs Myself). One fantastic revolution/evolution in modern painting was/is the pulling, dragging, of paint(s) across a canvas or medium, while it is still in various stages of the drying process.” Different stage (i.e. drying), different result. Righter tested this concept and uses this process in much of his work, as I do to large part as well.” Which of course is only a narrow focus on the large scale of art. In the presentation I did with a fellow class mate and artist, Sam Daigle we compared Gerhard Richter to Matt Zedler and then Matt Zedler to my work. (Dillon Edge) we used the piece “Cool Wave” by Mr. Zedler and related them to “Avsraket Bild” (Abstract painting 1995). These two paintings are similar in the method if paint application and color pallet. Both are dynamic and show a variety of tones and magnificent texture of the dragging bar/brush and the showing of layered colors. And as they both create dynamic works, where painterly application is key and paint is for paints sake.
Matt and Dillon share similarities in paint application, the use of acrylics and textures to create new surfaces for paint. They share a similar color pallet for very different reasons, for Matt Blue is Surreal and for Dillon it is calming and quick. Matt uses materials to Create his concept, but Dillon uses the Materials to shape the surface before the concept is laid out completely. “ I feel that Matt and I use materials in a way that expresses the subject matter in depth, and through the exploration of the materials we find our final image.”(myself)
Formalism and Formalist Art:
In art theory, formalism is the concept that a work’s artistic value is entirely determined by its form—the way it is made, its purely visual aspects, and its medium. Formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as color, line, shape and texture rather than realism context, and content. In visual art, formalism is a concept that posits that everything necessary to comprehending a work of art is contained within the work of art. The context for the work, including the reason for its creation, the historical background, and the life of the artist, is considered to be of secondary importance. Formalism is an approach to understanding art.
The concept of formalism in art continued to evolve through the 20th century. Some art critics argue for a return to the Platonic definition for Form as a collection of elements which falsely represent the thing itself and which are mediated by art and mental processes. A second view argues that representational elements must be somewhat intelligible, but must still aim to capture the object’s ‘Form’. A third view argues for a diale-discursive ontological knowledge. Instead, structuralists focused on how the creation of art communicates the idea behind the art. Whereas formalists manipulated elements within a medium, structuralists purposely mixed media and included context as an element of the artistic work. Whereas formalism’s focus was the aesthetic experience, structuralists played down response in favor of communication.
Structuralism’s focus on the ‘grammar’ of art reaches as far back as the work of Marcel Duchamp. In many ways, structuralism draws on the tools of formalism without adopting the theory behind them.
Hard-Edge Painting, is painting in which abrupt transitions are found between color areas. Color areas are often of one unvarying color. The Hard-edge painting style is related to geometric abstraction, Op Art, Post-Painterly Abstraction, and Color Field Painting.
The term was coined by writer, curator and Los Angeles Times art critic Jules Langsner, along with Peter Selz, in 1959,to describe the work of painters from California who, in their reaction to the more painterly or gestural forms of Abstract Expressionism, adopted a knowingly impersonal paint application and delineated areas of color with particular sharpness and clarity. This approach to abstract painting became widespread in the 1960s, though California was its creative center.
Notable Artists of the H.E.P. Process: This style of hard-edge geometric abstraction is evident in the work of both Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian. Other artists associated with Hard-edge painting include: Herb Aach, Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, and many, many others.
Overview on “Color Field Painting” (1950 to Present)
Color Field Painting is part of the Abstract Expressionist family of artists (a.k.a., the New York School). They are the quieter siblings, the introverts. The Action Painters (for example, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning) are the loud siblings, the extroverts. Color Field Painting was also called Post Painterly Abstraction by Clement Greenberg.
Color Field Painting and Action Painting have the following in common:
- They treat the surface of a canvas or paper as a “field” of vision, without a central focus. (Traditional painting usually organizes the surface in terms of the middle or zones of subject matter.)
- They emphasize the flatness of the surface.
- They do not refer to objects in the natural world.
- They reveal the artist’s emotional state of mind – his or her “expression.”
However, Color Field Painting is less about the process of making the work, which is at the heart of Action Painting. Color Field is about the tension created by overlapping and interacting areas of flat color. These areas of color can be amorphous or clearly geometric. This tension is the “action” or the content. It’s more subtle and cerebral than Action Painting.
Often Color Field Paintings are huge canvases. If you stand close to the canvas, the colors seem to extend beyond your peripheral vision, like a lake or an ocean. These mega-size rectangles require letting your mind and eye leap right into the expanse of red, blue or green. Then you can almost feel the sensation of the colors themselves.
Color Field owes a great deal to Kandinsky in terms of philosophy, but does not necessarily express the same color associations. The best known Color Field Painters are Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Jules Olitski, Kenneth Noland, Paul Jenkins, Sam Gilliam and Norman Lewis, among many others. These artists still use traditional paintbrushes and also the occasional air brush.
Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis invented Stain Painting (allowing the liquid paint to seep into the fibers of an unprimed canvas. Their work is a specific kind of Color Field Painting.
Hard-Edge Painting may be considered a “kissing cousin” to Color Field Painting, but it is not gestural painting. Therefore, Hard-Edge Painting does not qualify as “expressionist,” and is not part of the Abstract Expressionist family. Some artists, such as Kenneth Noland, practiced both tendencies: Color Field and Hard-Edge.
How Long Has Color Field Painting Been a Movement?
Color Field Painting began around 1950, following the initial shock of the Action Painters. Helen Frankenthaler, as I write this, is still with us, so that means Color Field Painting is alive–and hopefully well, too.
What Are the Key Characteristic of Color Field Painting?
- Bright, local colors are presented in specific shapes that can be amorphous or geometrical, but not too straight-edged.
- The works emphasize the flatness of the canvas or paper, because that is what a painting is literally about.
- The excitement comes from the tension set up between the colors and shapes. That is the subject of the work.
- The integration of shapes through overlapping or interpenetrations blurs spacial distinctions, so that there is almost no sense of the image versus the background (what art historians call “figure and ground”). Sometimes the shapes seem to both emerge and submerge into the surrounding colors.
- These works are usually very large, which encourages the viewer to experience the color as an enormous, engulfing expanse: a field of color.
(copy credits to about.com, art history, modern art, ~ author Beth Gersh-Nesic)