Painters Reply – A Reboot IV

Lisson Gallery Painters Reply 10th Ave Installation

For myself painting remains the most vital way to say what I want to say. I have always found the people who proclaim “painting is dead” to be ludicrous. If not perhaps bitter, maybe untalented. Or maybe just bored art critics who need a new suit, new buddies, and a new pitch. It’s probably true that there’s nothing new under the sun. But there’s still our lives, and our fears, and loves and complexities—and there’s still color in the world and lines and shapes and masses and sounds and words. It’s what painting is all about. It’s what sculpture is all about. It’s what video is all about. And everything else that the avant-garde is doing. Some do it well, some poorly. There are good paintings and bad, good books and bad, good video tapes and bad. Oil paint has an old quality to it—something traditional—it smacks of the past in a way maybe film or words on walls of galleries don’t. But I am convinced that there is infinitely more to explore through the medium of painting than I have done or seen. So I am still exploring and being more than content with the struggle. In response to your statement that those understood to be making the “next inevitable step” now work with any material but paint. That statement is sickening. It talks about the market and competition, and art critics and dealers and collectors and art magazines. It doesn’t talk about artists/painters. Serious painters are devoted to their work and frequently obsessed by their images. It doesn’t mean they don’t consider other mediums or try other mediums than paint. But it’s not a decision due to art critics, art magazines and consumerism. I’m sure there will be many good responses to this jab in the ribs by the so-called observers of the avant-garde. So I’ll end my statement. [Joan Snyder Painters Reply Artforum 1975]

Lynda Benglis UNTITLED, 1969 

Lynda Benglis: Well, I became the material—much like Pollock or Frankenthaler described it, or any of the artists who were physically involved with the viscosity of their materials and how they went onto the surface. My surface was the floor, or the wall, or the room. The ritual happened through knowing a lot about my material, and how I was to display it within the space and context offered to me, whether it was a gallery or a museum. When I did one of my first poured pieces in Dallas-Fort Worth in 1970, Henry T. Hopkins was head of the Modern Art Museum, and he allowed me to pour directly on the floor in the corner. I called the piece For Carl Andre because in 1966 Andre had done a brick work at the Jewish Museum, titled Lever, which came out from the wall. This drew attention to the fact that it was a simple material, fired clay, and it warped the space. That excited me, and I began to think about latex rubber taking the floor and changing the space. The floor bounced up at you, the piece bounced up at you, and it warped the space, too. Whenever I did a piece in or around a corner, it would suck up the corner. My first corner piece was shown at the Finch College Museum’s Art in Process IV in 1969. Mel Bochner had invited artists to show their work there. But at the museum, they were afraid that somebody would step into the poured rubber so they had me put it on a piece of plywood. To me it was the equivalent of a pedestal. I never did that again. I had to do it in situ.
FB Because you were interested in the work’s relationship with the architecture. And maybe in disruption—
LB Totally. I was also interested in getting it off the ground. Even when I was just using the rubber, I kept thinking, How do I get this floor painting onto the wall and express this thing about skin—casting your body out and away from you and testing yourself physically, like a rubber band? How do I get “my” skin onto the architecture? It was like birthing in a sense when I pulled up these huge latex rubber pieces—forty feet long, nine-and-a-half feet wide…. [Lynda Benglis in conversation with Federica Bueti]

Joe Overstreet Untitled 1972

Joe Overstreet’s experimental paintings from the early 1970s were made to be suspended from ceilings and tied to floors using a system of ropes and grommets. As a result, they occupy a good deal of three-dimensional space, and by design their shapes change every time they are installed, depending on how they are stretched out, draped, or crumpled. In some works, such as St. Expedite II and Untitled, both 1971, and Untitled, 1972, Overstreet has painted squares of canvas in solid colors—red, green, navy blue, deep purple—edged in contrasting stripes. Other works, such as the enormous Boxes, 1970, play with vibrant patterns of geometric abstraction but, at the same time, appear haunted by the ghosts of earlier, more figurative gestures. Others still, such as Purple Flight, 1971, are splattered with fast-flung drips of paint. Taken together, the fifteen paintings and six works on paper in this exhibition looked like the sails of a ship, kites, flags, or the flaps of a nomadic tribe’s tents. Such evocations and associations swirled around a dense matrix of further allusions—expressed in titles as well as in statements by the artist and the curator, Horace Brockington—to the histories of slavery and lynching in the American South, to free jazz and the Harlem Renaissance, and to the spiritual uses of objects and visual idioms in West African, Islamic, and American Indian traditions. The effect was a welcome whirlwind, unsettling established histories of who has made what kind of art, and why. [Kaelen Wilson-Goldie on Joe Overstreet]

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