Monday, 24 March 2008

The Wild

by Barnett Newman kept me busy over the past few days.

I couldn't get either image or concept out of my head. I had finally ordered a couple of books on Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting - thank you Casey for the good suggestions. They had arrived before the weekend and I had been drinking numerous coffees while looking through them.

Barnett Newman, The Wild, 1950
Oil on canvas, 4.1x243 cm

The painting - now, don't mistake the white background as part of it: it isn't. The painting has one of the most unusual dimensions I had come across as a canvas: it's 4.1x243 cms, i.e., almost 60 times higher than wide. Two layers of red painting onto a blue grey background.

In fact, I must have come across it a few years back at the MoMA, but can't remember it - funny, how there seems to be time and place for paintings to hit you when you're (not) ready.

So, there it is: a significant line - bold and tall, decisive in red. It separates - yet at the same time unifies, provides connnections, holds together.

Lines as themes in my own work - they keep my eyes focused, draw attention to move along, to explore what's around: above, below, left and right. As such: how strict an order do they impose?

Back to Newman - a single line in red and its bold title. The title almost intrigues me as much as the format and concept. It makes me smile: this is almost as far away from wild, expressive and spontaneous as I can imagine. And probably therefore it's such a brilliant title.


Casey Klahn said...

I am pretty sure I saw a different one at the MoMA. The use of tape was an element in Newman's line paintings, if I remember right.

I think your exploration of Abstract Expressionism is going to inform your art, Gesa! Can't wait to see the results.

Gesa said...

There's another one in the Taschen book: Onement 1, which seems to be the first of the zip ones and also at the MoMA.
Yes - I'm very much looking forward to more Abstract Exp. What I've seen so far has really resonated with a lot of other bits. Just need to find time to write it up...