200 words #8 / Lynda Benglis

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© Lynda Benglis/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

In the late 1960s and early 70s, the artist Lynda Benglis became known for making expansive poured ‘paintings’; vast slicks of coloured latex poured and dripped in industrial quantities onto the floors of galleries, museums, and even private residences. These sensuous fields of mingling colours might have come from memories of oil slicks seen on the Bayou of her childhood Louisiana. They might equally have developed in response to the large-scale painted gesture which had come to represent America’s first mature statement of its independence in the visual arts; a statement on which men held a monopoly.

Benglis went on to produce increasingly sculptural work and to refine her own visual statements, relying less on what had come before, and striking further into new territory. There were other aspects of Benglis’ work in the 70s, in video art and advertisements, which addressed gender politics very directly. But her unique painterly constructions incorporate so much more in their mysterious, organic presence. Some 40 years on from her initial statements in polyurethane, wax, and bronze, Benglis, in a sun-baked studio in New Mexico, is making work which subtly consolidates decades of experience and experimentation, but looks as fragile as a discarded snakeskin.

Lynda Benglis is at Cheim & Read New York until October 22, 2016.

Lynda Benglis at Cheim & Read

Coming soon – Frieze London 2016 @ Regent’s Park, 6 – 9 October 2016.

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Image: Cheim & Read, Frieze London 2015. Photograph by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze.

theglazelondon.com will be covering Frieze London Art Fair 2016 and Frieze Masters with highlights from participating galleries, Frieze Projects, talks, and events . The fair will run from Thursday 6th until Sunday 9th of October.

Frieze London 2016

200 words #7 / Jessica Stockholder

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Installation view of Jessica Stockholder: The Guests All Crowded Into the Dining Room at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY. © Jessica Stockholder; Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY. 

When certain critics asked Jackson Pollock why his paintings stopped short of the edges of the canvas, as though the looping paintwork was turning back on itself, they were exposing a fictional boundary between painting and the world beyond the canvas. In asking the question they seemed to be willing the paint across the edge, perhaps to see what would happen and what it would mean.

When I first saw Jessica Stockholder’s work about 20 years ago, reproduced in a generously illustrated large format Phaidon monograph, I realised what it meant to take the challenges faced by painters every day in front of their canvases and to thrash them out in three dimensions. The issues of painting are portable I discovered, and could just as well be investigated without easel or paintbrush.

Using the most commonplace of items such as plastic laundry baskets, refrigerator doors, lightbulbs, fans, mirrors, and shower curtains, Jessica Stockholder creates irresistibly lush environments. Where she uses paint, it is to consolidate disparate objects under the same colour. In other places similarly coloured, unpainted objects seem to mimic the painted surface. Her immersive installations, sometimes resembling a latter day merzbau, are cerebral and poetic in equal measure.

JESSICA STOCKHOLDER / THE GUESTS ALL CROWDED INTO THE DINING ROOM
is at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York until October 1, 2016.

David Korty @ Sadie Coles HQ / Davies St. London, September 1 – October 1, 2016.

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Installation view, David Korty, Sadie Coles HQ, 1 Davies Street, London, 01 September – 01 October 2016. Copyright the artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

To read the critic Clement Greenberg writing in 1948 that “…the cubist tradition may enjoy a new efflorescence in this country (America)…” is to be reminded that American art was, until well into the 20th century, still looking over its shoulder at Europe. This ‘efflorescence’ never did occur, unless Greenberg had in mind some kind of sublimated re-presentation of cubism, on a larger scale perhaps – a scale befitting the art of an emergent superpower.

David Korty (born, California, 1971) is painting at a vast remove from a time when the futures of clearly identifiable movements in art were the subjects of earnest debate. If the current series of paintings on show at Sadie Coles employs visual devices familiar to us from the work of a range of cubist and post-cubist artists from the past, then it presents these devices in a way which has been researched. His work is cool, in the sense that it does not break a sweat or leave itself exposed to anything so compromising as spontaneity. Accidents, happy or unwanted, have likely happened during the period leading up to the commencement of the series proper, before the major choices involving colour, text, scale, and motifs had been made. The resulting work is sharp, consistent, and imposing. Continue reading “David Korty @ Sadie Coles HQ / Davies St. London, September 1 – October 1, 2016.”

200 words #6 / Lee Krasner

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Lee Krasner The Eye is the First Circle, 1960, Oil on canvas, 235.6 x 487.4 cm, Private collection, courtesy Robert Miller Gallery, New York

© ARS, NY and DACS, London 2016

Lee Krasner would try to forestall criticism when, looking back on an early painting trip to Provincetown with Jackson Pollock, in which the two artists hardly put brush to canvas, she insisted that “…to the people who think paintings are made only at the moment paint goes on canvas!” the trip “…was productive”.

For Krasner painting was always the central activity of her life. Even when out walking the flats of Provincetown she was reflecting on her work. It was her period of study under the painter Hans Hofmann in the late 30s which would force Krasner’s work into maturity and help her find her own voice. She had easily assimilated the lessons of Cubism as they had been interpreted and developed by Hofmann. But Hofmann would always have one foot in Europe and so would never consider, and perhaps never want to take the dramatic leap into complete, all-over abstraction.

Krasner felt no such allegiance to the practice of pushing shapes around the canvas. From her mid-career work on there were no ‘gaping holes’ the likes of which Clement Greenberg deplored. There were no objects for the eye to rest on and the painting itself had become the subject.

Lee Krasner’s work will be on display from September 24th 2016 as part of the exhibition Abstract Expressionism at The Royal Academy.

Abstract Expressionism at The Royal Academy

Roberto Burle Marx – Brazilian Modernist @The Jewish Museum, New York, May 6 – September 18, 2016.

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Avenida Atlântica, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, pavement designed by Roberto Burle Marx, 1970. © Burle Marx Landscape Design Studio, Rio de Janeiro. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Amongst the multitude of artefacts in the architect Sir John Soane’s house on London’s Lincoln’s Inn Fields, a bust representing Soane has been positioned above those of both Raphael and Michelangelo. It is said that Soane chose this symbolic arrangement to suggest that the greatest of achievements in either painting or sculpture were lesser than those of architecture, albeit the type of architecture which was based on classical principles.

Nowadays, in the absence of such guiding principles, it would seem a redundant exercise to choose sides according to which art form one believed best expressed the same ideas or best achieved the same end. Better perhaps to accept what each art form does best. The practice of jumping between disciplines, if it is done well, and the resulting cross-pollination, is today considered a sign of sophistication in an artist.  It is arguably because of the divisions and differences between practices, rather than in spite of them, that it has become so attractive to be able to switch from one discipline to another with ease.

Yet the impulse towards a hierarchy of the arts persists. A ceramicist for example will only be brought into the context of a contemporary art gallery once the larger portion of functionality in the object has been relinquished. As a subject for painters, a garden, or a chosen vista onto a pastoral landscape, has long allowed artists to say at least as much about paint itself as about the landscape being painted. The notion of the primacy of paint (above a great many other mediums) is deep-rooted. Claude Monet might not be as celebrated as he is had he not come to his enthusiasm for cultivating gardens through the medium of paint with its immanent philosophical potential. Continue reading “Roberto Burle Marx – Brazilian Modernist @The Jewish Museum, New York, May 6 – September 18, 2016.”