the first year we launched GRAPHITE, one of the successful artist submissions was work by emerging artist Allison Schulnik — already known for her directorial efforts with band Grizzly Bear in their video Ready, Able. her pieces were incredibly animated with their layers of impasto.
John Williams' Untitled, an Abstract Painting in My Home By Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer
"In the tradition of abstract expressionism, which rejected representing actual objects in favor of an energetic investigation of painting's basic materials, the painting[s] show the accumulated evidence of the artist's body in motion. Recording Williams' gestures as painterly thrashings, the work is a precise complement to his memorable live performances, in which he constantly arranged and rearranged a sprawling set of props and overhead projections.
[His works are big] and crammed full of colorful and layered activity that conveys the speed of Williams' brush. Flat, graphic shapes abut muddied smears and mottled textures. Arcing strokes mark the compasslike reach of the artist's wrist while contrasting with more detailed areas of gridded pattern.
While there are some bulging globs of paint on the surface, it's the overlapping actions that really give the picture an illusion of dizzying depth. With intertwining lines curving, streaking and corkscrewing all over, this is an emphatically active, nearly explosive painting, which promises to activate even further with prolonged, daily viewing."
Contacted the head of his collection in Israel. Toured his old atelier, which is now a museum. Browsed some works on paper in storage, and purchased a piece! It shows the element of the grid – the parallel lines and the criss-cross lines – a recurrent everyday framework that is present throughout Kupferman’s oeuvre. It also demonstrates his Free Variations, exposing the performative-musical dimension of his painting: elements appear, disappear, and reappear, and in the process bring about the creation of a rhythmic and melodious practice that is the artist’s unique language.
Claude Monet, Boulevard des Capucines, 1872-73.
Edgar Degas, Place de la Concorde, 1875.
In comparing and contrasting the two paintings below, I dissect their formal qualitites to address the following two questions: First, how does each work relate to the larger project and goals of the Impressionist movement? Second: What is specifically “modernist” about each painting?
Renouncing the academic dogmas of the Old Masters, Impressionists strove to capture contemporary subjects and themes. Claude Monet’s Boulevard des Capucines (1872-73) and Edgar Degas’s Place de la Concorde (1875) present the viewer with masterfully depicted moments of Parisian life. The fleeting and the spontaneous of the everyday was a primary focus of Impressionist artwork. In Monet’s Boulevard, we see a crowded street from the vantage point of an onlooker — likely viewing from one of the Haussmann structures, whereas Degas’s rendition shows a more detailed and fragmented (literally edge-cutting) scene of an empty Parisian plaza. Both works attest to representation of the era’s Modernity: the Industrial Revolution of vast cities.
Clement Greenberg understood Modernism to be an art of “self-criticism.” This movement chose to criticize art itself, questioning all the artistic standards and expectations of the time. The Impressionists focused their practice on the act of painting, not the illusion of a painting. They acknowledged the materials of art’s process: the pigments of paint, the flatness of the canvas, and the limitations of its shape.
Here, both Degas and Monet utilize this “painterly” method. Monet’s interpretation is sketchy; he used quick dabs of paint, giving the work this unfinished, ethereal quality. Degas recognizes the canvas’s physicality with his emphasis his scene’s vast empty space.
They rejected the super-real mimesis of Neo-Classicism for the optical sensations of the ephemeral visions of Impressionism.