“But the limitation of Stella’s analysis, which explains the problems of his recent art, lies in his fundamental misunderstanding of Baroque art. His formalist analysis both overestimates Caravaggio’s importance and misrepresents his achievement, as when he claims that Caravaggio’s pictorial space is “self-contained.” It leads him to the absolutely mistaken conclusion that the goal of abstracti”on should be to create a literal space, like that of his recent works, which really are large-scale relief sculptures. The true power of Baroque art, and also of abstraction, is its capacity to create an illusionistic space. Stella misidentifies the spectator’s role. Painting circa 1990, as circa 1590, involves the spatial and temporal relation of a spectator to the image. The aim of the Baroque was to reestablish contact with the spectator, which cannot be done with literal space.” David Carrier and David Reed, “Tradition, Eclecticism, Self-Consciousness Baroque Art and Abstract Painting,” Arts Magazine 65, No. 5, (Jan. 1991): 44-49.
In the early 90s there was Scully, Heilman, Read, Row, Halley, Dryer, Zinsser, Lasker, Bleckner, Winters and many others. But don’t be mislead. This wasn’t so much a movement as it was a geek reformulation of Greenberg’s process painting and a throaty reaction to Frank Stella’s ideas of abstraction as presented in his “Working Space.” Unfortunately, this “moment” for abstract painting never unfolded into something culturally meaningful. It never really took flight. Was it a real Baroque movement for abstract painting? I’m not so sure. It always felt more like a full-blown Florentine Mannerism to me – like Bronzino or Pontormo rather than Caravaggio.
I really like the idea put forward by Carrier and Reed in their essay that there was a need for abstraction to establish contact with the spectator through an illusionistic space. But this is something that no one could really agree on – illusion and space, I mean.