Painters Reply – A Reboot II

Lisson Gallery 10th Ave Painters Reply 2019

“For the past decade or so, it has become increasingly apparent that advanced art must rely, in large measure, on the manipulation of context to achieve its gains. It is an old and, by now, familiar device: simply take another discipline, shift it into the visual art context and you have advanced art. For example, Joseph Kosuth (language and philosophy), Vito Acconci and Chris Burden (theater), Robert Irwin (architecture), Robert Smithson (landscape architecture), Hanne Darboven and Mel Bochner (mathematics), Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol (advertising and comic art) and Joseph Beuys (politics).
Now that the right to utilize context has been decisively won for all artists, perhaps we can look at painting again with some perspective. It is simply one of the numerous available visual arts media in which the artist can, in 1975, work with brilliant or not so brilliant results, depending upon his innate gifts and application. Al Held and a few others are good examples. Like most of the other disciplines, it has its clearly defined limits. It may well be that the best painters today are not worrying so much about the “next inevitable step” as they are about extending the limits of the painting medium itself or, perhaps, working within those limits. As every art student today knows, manipulation of context in the late ’60s manner is by now a game anybody can play. However, these comments should in no way be construed as a diatribe against recent advanced art, of which I am an avid and vocal supporter. I simply am somewhat surprised at the assumption implicit in your questionnaire.” [Gene Davis Artist Reply Artforum 1975]

“In the 1970s, David Reed began making paintings with strokes directly brushed wet–into–wet across door–size canvases, measuring about fifty–five inches wide and seventy–six inches high. Each stroke was the length of Reed’s reach from a single standing position. These paintings are quite literal, measuring the dimensions and capabilities of Reed’s body, tracing the touch of his brush and its passage across the canvas. Drips attest to gravity and the fluidity of the oil paint. Like many post–war art works, they appear to aim at an extreme of matter–of–factness.
The combination of paint and body determined the painting, makes the rules and prescribes its dimensions and its look. Frank Stella famously made his black paintings of the late 50s and early to mid–60s so that the interior of the painting sympathized with the exterior. Critic Michael Fried called this “deductive reasoning,” in that one could deduce what a painting would look like simply from the shape and dimensions of the canvas. The interior lines and shapes traced and echoed this larger form. Inverting Stella’s concept, Reed cut his canvas to fit the painting he knew he wanted to make, a painting that not incidentally was itself determined by his body’s physical facts, the length of his arm and brush, and its reach.” [Katy Siegel on David Reed’s early 70s paintings]

Ron Gorchov LOCK 1977 

“In 1966, Ron Gorchov, who had had three exhibitions at Tibor de Nagy between 1960 and 1966, began a series of works he collectively titled Arguments with Rectangles, Flatness, and Dimension. Once he changed his work, he did not show again in New York until 1975.
The other person that Gorchov appears to be responding to in his Arguments was Clement Greenberg, who believed that advanced art always was anxious about its medium. As he told fellow painter Ray Smith in an interview, he decided there were six issues to address. These included “freely painted edges,” the “desire to continue painting on stretched canvas,” “perception of canvas as both object and void,” and the “synthesis of painting, sculpture and architecture.” Once he established these questions and intuitively followed the logic of where they led, he began working in an idiosyncratic format, which he has stayed with for fifty years.
In responding to Judd and Greenberg, it is apparent that Gorchov wanted to find his own way past what he saw as the limits of their theorizing and make something that was recognizably his. As a committed abstract painter, the challenges he had to face included Abstract Expressionism (subjectivity) and Minimalism (objectivity), abstract gestures and tight geometry. At the same time, one of the great things about the art world is this: just when it looks like everything has been used up and there is nowhere else to go, someone comes along and proves otherwise.” [John Yau on Ron Gorchov]

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