April 12th, 2008
Jules Olitski, Tin Lizzie Green, 1964, plate 24.
“While scrupulously avoiding anything resembling psychological symbolism, the ‘post-painterly’ conception of ‘cool’ included the belief that a painting, no matter how apparently restrained, could address the viewer’s whole being — emotions, intellect, and all — through the eye” (p17).
Friedel Dzubas, Lotus, 1962, plate 32.
“Discrete shapes, dynamic imbalances, cursive drawing, and even the most elliptical, implicit suggestions of narrative were all jettisoned, in various combinations and sometimes all at once. The single indispensable element proved to be color — in generous amounts — which, paradoxically, both emphasized the painting’s presence as an object and suggested vast, ambiguous spaces that one saw into but could not, even metaphorically, enter” (p17, 22).
Morris Louis, Mem, 1959, plate 16.
“This emphasis on color was usually allied with a strenuous avoidance of the materiality so crucial to gestural Abstract Expressionism. Touch could be so reduced that paint applications in Color Field abstractions can seem, depending on our sympathies, either inexplicably magical or almost mechanical. Color can appear to have been breathed onto the surface or, when thinned down and soaked into the canvas, to have fused with it, the way dye fuses with fabric. The results is an ineffable, seemingly weightless expanse. Even though essentially all we are left to contemplate are the physical materials of painting (refined as they are), the result is an exquisitely rarefied type of abstraction in which material means are almost completely subservient to the visual. Any lingering vestiges of the painting’s lost history as depiction disappear, and we are faced with pure, eloquent, wordless seeing” (p22).
Kenneth Noland, Earthen Bound, 1960, plate 19.