October 23, 1988 |
The first thing one should understand about "The Figurative Fifties," the new exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, is that contrary to the implications of its catchy title, it's a tightly focused examination of a particular situation in a specific place. "The Figurative Fifties" is not a definitive examination of figurative painting during the 1950s, nor even of American figurative painting, nor even - and this is where one really begins to split hairs - of figurative painting in New York, which by 1950 had clearly become the center of the American art world.
August 4, 1993 |
Transitions from one philosophy of art-making to another are never as clear-cut as art history paints them. The documenting of movements or periods as self-contained events is little more than a convenience; in fact, fashions in art, like those in apparel, tend to overlap, mix and generally confound anyone who tries to separate them. The transition from abstract expressionism to pop art during the 1950s and early '60s should be easy enough to understand in this regard. It occurred at a time when contemporary art was beginning to receive a lot of attention, not just in the art press but in the mass media as well.
October 4, 1986 |
Art Matters, a nonprofit monthly publication devoted to the visual arts in the Philadelphia area, decided to celebrate its fifth birthday by organizing a competitive show for area photographers striving for recognition. For this worthy objective, it obtained as co-sponsors Cigna Corp. and the city's Office of Arts and Culture, and hired four prestigious jurors to sift the entries. Cigna is now exhibiting the resulting 74-item show, "Philadelphia Photographers International," selected from more than 500 entries.
July 6, 2011 |
ROME - Celebrated American painter Cy Twombly, 83, whose large-scale paintings featured scribbles, graffiti, and unusual materials, died Tuesday. Mr. Twombly, who had cancer, died in Rome, said Eric Mezil, director of the Lambert Collection in Avignon, France, where the artist opened a show in June. Mr. Twombly had mostly lived in Italy since 1959. "A great American painter who deeply loved old Europe has just left us," French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said in a statement.
October 15, 1988 |
Painting in the 1950s was not a decorous affair; canvases were not mollycoddled. Artists poured and dripped their paint. They slopped it, whacked it and hurled it; they sloshed and scraped and brushed with a vengeance and a vision. In the decade after the end of World War II, artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb and Barnett Newman seized the art world by the neck and hijacked it into the swirling byways of what came to be called abstract expressionism.
December 29, 2011 |
Helen Frankenthaler, 83, a key figure in postwar American abstract art, died Tuesday at her home in Darien, Conn., after a long illness. She was known for creating lyrical abstract works using thin washes of translucent colored paint that soaked into her unprimed canvases, achieving qualities similar to watercolor, though often on a grand scale. If the technique, which derived from Jackson Pollock's drip paintings, forsook absolute control, it made up for it in liveliness, as Ms. Frankenthaler made use of her great feeling for contrasts in color, opacity, and shape.
January 23, 1994 |
Digging into a backlog of professional literature is, for me, the most productive response to being housebound. In the art business, there is always more to read than time in which to read it, or, more important, to ponder the ramifications of what others have written. Over the last several weeks, three books picked more or less randomly from the "when-I-have-time" pile have reinforced some thoughts I formed during recent exhibition visits. These thoughts, in turn, involve the price that contemporary art has paid for becoming engaged with mass media and popular culture.
October 14, 1990 |
Anyone old enough to remember what the art world was like before the careerists, the celebrity dealers and the speculator-collectors took it over should thoroughly enjoy "Bay Area Figurative Art, 1950-1965," the principal fall exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The exhibition re-creates the time during the 1950s and early '60s when art-making still aroused fierce passions, loyalties and feuds among artists and critics. It was a time when the avant-garde believed so fervently in the righteousness of its cause, which was abstraction created by intuition and chance, that Willem de Kooning could shock his friends and outrage his foes by painting a recognizable female figure.
May 14, 2008 |
Robert Rauschenberg, who with contemporary Jasper Johns provoked a profound shift in 20th-century art after World War II, died Monday night at his home on Captiva Island, Fla. He was 82. According to his New York dealer, Arne Glimcher of PaceWildenstein gallery, the cause was heart failure. Beginning in the early to mid-1950s, Mr. Rauschenberg extended the vocabulary of painting, which had been more or less fixed since the Middle Ages, by combining pigment with real objects such as stuffed birds, fabrics and household appliances, and photographs reproduced from newspapers.
March 20, 1997 |
Willem de Kooning, 92, often described as the greatest living painter, died yesterday morning at his home in East Hampton, Long Island. He was disabled by Alzheimer's disease some years ago, and stopped painting about 1990. Mr. de Kooning was the last survivor of the famed New York school of abstract expressionism, which after World War II established that city as the new center of world art. He became famous in the early 1950s for his violently expressive paintings of women.