Post-Minimalism II: 20th Century Realism and The Return of the Figure
Post-Minimalism II20th Century Realism and The Return of the Figure
Post-Minimalism• The term Post-Minimalism was first introduced in 1971 by art historian, critic, and gallery director Robert Pincus- Witten.• The designation Post-Minimalism is granted to those artists whose works seek to go beyond the aesthetic of Minimalism in some way.• Post-Minimalist artists use Minimalism as an aesthetic or conceptual ground.• It is not any one specific style or movement and more a tendency or way of thinking/approach to art making.
American Art and the Return of the Figure• American art has always been invested in the figure.• It was not until Abstract Expressionism came to define American art that the figure was compromised.• Under the influence of Greenberg, the importance of the figure was jeopardized as more and more artists painted the figure out of the canvas. Thomas Eakins, The Gross Clinic, 1875. Oil on canvas 8’x6’6”. Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA.
American Art and the Return of the Figure• Those artists who were interested in the figural style of painting found inspiration in the work of Regionalist painters like Edward Hopper whose American scene paintings had a quality of stillness desired. Edward Hopper, Early Sunday Morning, 1930. Oil on canvas, 35” x 60”. Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.
American Art and the Return of the Figure• Succeeding the first generation of Abstract Expressionist painters there grew a new school painters interested in figurative work and the painterly style.• Leading artists of this painterly style include Grace Hartigan, Alex Katz, Philip Pearlstein, and Fairfield Porter.• Figurative painters were successful in unseating the abstraction of Minimalism however, the stillness in work like Photorealism does exhibit a continue dependence on the aesthetic.• These artists became associated with a New Realism-the subjects of which everyday motifs. – Out of this New Realism, a revival of the still-life was born.
20th century Realism• Even at the height of Greenberg’s influence and abstraction’s hold on modern artists, it was Wyeth’s painting, Christina’s World, that attracted the most amount of visitors to MoMA’s door.• Wyeth enjoyed the status of the most widely recognized American artist throughout the popularity of Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World, 1948. Tempera on gessoed panel, 32 ¼” x 47 ¾”. Museum of Modern Art, NY.
20th century RealismAndrew Wyeth (1917-2009)•Wyeth’s paintings are realist instyle. – The artist however described his figures as abstract.•His paintings are dominated bythe world around him-landscape and people heencounters.•His process usually involvedthe artist making multiplestudies in pencil or watercolorthat he then translated to a finalwatercolor, drybrush, ortempera. Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World, 1948. Tempera on gessoed panel, 32 ¼” x 47 ¾”. Museum of Modern Art, NY.
20th century RealismAndrew Wyeth (1917-2009)•The woman featured inWyeth’s best known painting,Christina’s World is ChristinaOlson.•Christina was his neighbor inMaine who suffered from anillness that prohibited her frombeing able to walk.•Christina spent much of hertime near Wyeth’s Maine homeand was often seen pullingherself to get around.•Although figurative, the vastsweeping landscape is akin toRothko’s Color-field blocks of Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World, 1948.color. Tempera on gessoed panel, 32 ¼” x 47 ¾”. Museum of Modern Art, NY.
American Art and the Return of the FigureAlice Neel (1900-1984)•Alongside Wyeth, Neel is anothermodern American painter that refusedto abandon the figure.•Her subjects were people she knew-friends and family, as well as iconicfigures of the modern art world.•She is known for her expressionist useof color and line as well as thepsychological dimension of her portraitsand their intensity. Alice Neel, Andy Warhol, 1970. Oil on canvas, 60” x 40”. Whitney Museum of American Art.
American Art and the Return of the FigureAlice Neel (1900-1984)•Neel remains one of the mostrevered American portrait artists.•Neel’s reputation revolved aroundher ability to paint the sitter’s soul-her portraits are psychologicalrenderings of the people that sitbefore her.•She is known for never asking hersitter’s to pose; rather she allowedthem to be natural andcomfortable. Alice Neel, Linda Nochlin and Daisy, 1973. Oil on canvas, 55 ⅞” x 44”. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
American Art and the Return of the Figure • Her portraits mimic traditional poses.Édouard Manet,Olympia,1863-65. Oil Alice Neel, John Perreault, 1972. Oil on on canvas, 4’3” x 6’2 ¾”. Musée canvas, 38” x 63 ½”. Whitney Museum o dOrsay, Paris. American Art.
American Art and the Return of the Figure• And include new and controversial subject matter. Alice Neel, Self-Portrait, 1980. Oil onAlice Neel, Pregnant Woman, 1971. Oil on canvas, 54” x 40”. National Portrait Canvas, 40” x 60”. Private Collection. Gallery, Washington, D.C.
American Art and the Return of the FigureFairfield Porter (1907-1975)“I was never one to paint space. Ipaint air.” -Fairfield Porter Fairfield Porter, Under the Elms, 1971-1972. Oil on canvas, 62 15/16” x 46 ¼”. Academy od the Fine Arts, Philadelphia.
American Art and the Return of the FigureFairfield Porter (1907-1975)•Like many of the AbstractExpressionists, Porter studied at theArt Students’ League in New York City,where he moved in 1928.•At this time he was painting sociallyconscious art.•Other than his experience with theArt Students’ League, he had very littletraining and his main connection tothe Abstract Expressionist artists was Fairfield Porter, Under the Elms,the criticism her wrote in support of it. 1971-1972. Oil on canvas, 62 15/16” x 46 ¼”. Academy od the Fine Arts, Philadelphia.
• Porter was heavily influenced by the work of French artists, Bonnard and Vuillard.Pierre Bonnard, Dining Room in the Garden, Édouard Vuillard, Woman in Blue with Child, 1934-1935. Oil on canvas, 50 ⅛” x 53 ½”. 1899. Oil on canvas, 19 ⅛” x 22 ¼”. Glasgow Art Museum of Modern Art, NY. Gallery and Museum, Kelvingrove.
American Art and the Return of the Figure • The true subjects of Porter’s canvases are the light and landscape.Fairfield Porter, Farmhouse Great Spruce Head Island, 1954. Oil on canvas, 25 3/8” x 36 ¾”. The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY.
Contemporary RealismAntonio López Garcia (b. 1936)•The rebirth of still life was realized inthe work of many artists includingGarcia.•Garcia paid close attention to detail inthe rendering of his subjects, whichusually consisted of the commoneveryday scene and objects.•His Washbasin and Mirror usuallydraws comparison to the work ofPhotorealist artists but resembles theuniformity of the Minimalist gridcaptured in the tile work above the sink. Antonio López Garcia, Washbasin and Mirror, 1967. Oil on wood, 38 ⅝” x 32 ⅞”. Private Collection.
Photorealism (late 1960s-early 1970s)Richard Estes (b.1936)•The art of artist Richard Estesrepresents the Photorealistmovement.•Photorealism is style based onusing the camera and photographsto paint images that lookphotographic.•Some artists, like Estes workfrom several photographs torealize their canvases.•The Photorealist style ischaracterized by meticulousness Richard Estes, Bus Reflectionsand clearness. (Ansonia), 1972. Oil on canvas, 40” x 52”. Private Collection.
Photorealism (late 1960s-early 1970s)Chuck Close (b. 1940)•The marriage of the photographicimage with conceptual considerationlies at the root of artist Chuck Close’spainting style.•Evolving out of late AbstractExpressionism, Close sought toreconcile the figure with his abstractroots.•The result of this marriage is hissignature process of pixilation. Chuck Close, Self-Portrait, 1991. Oil on canvas, 8’4” x 7’.Collection Pained-Webber Group, Inc. NYC.
Photorealism (late 1960s-early 1970s)Chuck Close (b. 1940)•Close’s process is akin toSeurat’s pointillism.•Close references thephotographic image in his work.•The detail on the rightdemonstrates the processinvolved in Close’s paintings. – Up close these details are very abstract in design.•Like Minimalism, Close workswith the uniformity of the grid. Chuck Close, Portrait of Lucas Samaras, with detail of pixels, 1986-1987. Oil and graphite on canvas, 100” x 84”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.
Photorealism (late 1960s-early 1970s)Chuck Close (b. 1940)•The result of Close’s process is muchlike the pointillist effect.•Up close can see the square gridused to create the image and fromafar these details come into focus tocreate a clear image.•To counter the impersonality of hisprocess, Close only paints himselfpeople he knows-friends and family,up close. Chuck Close, Linda, 1975-1976. Acrylic on linen, 9’ x 7’. Akron Art Museum, Ohio.
Photorealism (late 1960s-early 1970s)Chuck Close (b. 1940)•Close eventually began what areknown as his fingerprint paintings.•These paintings have the artist’sown fingerprint fill in each squarespace of the grid that exists behindthe portrait of his subjects. Chuck Close, Self-Portrait, 1991. Oil on canvas, 8’4” x 7’.Collection Pained-Webber Group, Inc. NYC.
Photorealism (late 1960s-early 1970s)Marcus Harvey (b. 1963)•Another artist infamous for using Close’stechnique is the contemporaryPhotorealist, Marcus Harvey.•Harvey caught the attention of Londonwhen he created an image of convictedchild torturer and murderer, MyraHindley.•Using Close’s fingerprint process, Harveycreated a portrait of Myra using thefinger and handprints of small children.•His painting was included in theincendiary Sensation exhibition of the1990s. Marcus Harvey, Myra, 1995. Acrylic on canvas, 12’8” x 10’6”. Saatchi Gallery, London.
Photorealism (late 1960s-early 1970s)Audrey Flack (b. 1931)•Flack is believed to havepainted the first Photorealistwork.•Like Close, Flack made use ofthe airbrush of herphotorealistic works.•Amongst her best knownworks are her modern still lifesor vanitas. Audrey Flack, Marilyn (Vanitas), 1977. Oil over acrylic on canvas, 96” x 96”. University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ.
• Her vanitas breathe new, modern life into the still lifes of Baroque artists.Audrey Flack, Marilyn (Vanitas), 1977. Oil over Adriaen van Utrecht, Still Life, 1644. Oil on acrylic on canvas, 96” x 96”. University of canvas, 73” x 95 ½”. National Gallery of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ. Art, Washington, D.C.
Photorealism (late 1960s-early 1970s)Audrey Flack (b. 1931)•To create her substantialcanvases, Flack carefully arrangesthe objects to be depicted, takes aphotograph of them, makes a slide,and then projects these imagesonto the surface onto which shepaints using an airbrush. – She was one of the earliest female painters (Judy Chicago was another) to master the airbrush and use it in their work. Audrey Flack, Wheel of Fortune, 1977-1978. Oil over acrylic on canvas, 96” x 96”. Collection Louis Susan, and Ari Meisel
Photorealism (late 1960s-early 1970s)Malcolm Morley (b. 1931)•Morley was only partially dedicated tothe look of Photorealism.•His images reference photographicmodels but the artist rejected theglossiness usually associated with typicalPhotorealist paintings.•His primary sources were usuallymagazine ads or travel pamphlets.•To enhance the abstract nature of hisprocess he usually dividing the Malcolm Morley, Ship’s Dinner Party,inspiration image into pieces then 1966. Magna color on canvas, 6’11transferred them to canvas, often ¾” x 5’ 3 ¾”. Museum vaninserting sections upside down. Hedendaagse Kunst, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
20th Century RealismSylvia Plimack Mangold (b. 1938)•Mangold focused her efforts onthe overly realistic rendering ofwood floors.•She began including mirrors inher images in 1972 allowing herto extend the illusion of space inher paintings. Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Opposite Corners, 1973. Acrylic on canvas, 6’6” x 5’ 3 3/3”. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.
20th Century Realism • Her images create illusionistic spaces of the domestic interior and draw on the tradition of the veduta (extremely detailed and factually oriented Renaissance paintings of towns, piazzas, or other landscape.) Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Hallway, 1968. Johannes Vermeer, View of Delft,Oil on canvas, 63” x 102”. Alexander and 1659-1660. Oil on canvas, approximately Bonin Gallery, N.Y.C. 39” x 46”. Mauritshuis, The Hague.
20th Century RealismSylvia Plimack Mangold (b. 1938)•In the mid-1970s Mangoldintroduced rulers to her paintings.•These rulers play withperspective-both demonstratingand questioning it at the sametime. Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Ruler Reflection, 1977. Acrylic on canvas 61” x 42”.
• Her influences include Corinth and Cézanne. Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Maple Tree, Lovis Corinth, In the Zoo, 1920. 1998. Drypoint. Image: 13 ¾” × 11”Drypoint and aquatint. 9 ½” × 7 ⅜“. Los Paper: 22 ⅛ × 18”. Barbara Krakow Angeles County Museum of Art, CA. Gallery, Boston.
20th Century RealismDuane Hanson (1925-1996)•The aesthetic that drovePhotorealism in painting had itsinfluence on sculpture as well.•To create his hyper-realisticsculpture, Hanson cast from realmodels.•From the model he creates thefiberglass-reinforced resinsculpture then adds final touchesincluding pores, imperfections,bulges, and skin discoloration. Duane Hanson, Tourists, 1970. Polychromed fiberglass and polyester, 64” x 65” x 47”. National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh.
• Hanson’s sculptures are quite different from Segal, who also casts from live models. • Unlike Hanson, Segal maintained the unrealistic white color of the model as his final work. George Segal, Street Crossing, 1992. Bronze Duane Hanson, Queenie II,1988.with white patina, life-size. Doris C. Freedman Polychromed bronze, with accessories Plaza, NYC. life size. The Saatchi Gallery, London.
20th Century RealismPhilip Pearlstein (b. 1924)•Pearlstein came of age at the height ofModernist rejection of realism.•Pearlstein was concerned with executingan indifferently objective representation ofhis subject.•The nude model posed in the studiobecame an almost exclusive subject for him.•His representations are factual andunidealized, his style leaves nothing to theimagination and gives no value tointrospection. Philip Pearlstein, Two Nudes in Studio, 1965. Oil on canvas, 24” x 18”. Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
20th Century RealismAlex Katz (b. 1927)•Katz dedicated himself to thefigure early in his career andmaintained that dedicationthrough the height ofabstraction’s challenge of theform.•Like many abstract artists,Katz took inspiration fromearly modern masters in hislarge planes of color,brushwork, and flatness. Alex Katz, The Red Band (detail), 1978. Oil on canvas, 6’ x 12’. Private Collection.
New Image Painting• New Image painting comes into fashion in the 1970s when most of the artists working in the style matured.• Foundations of the movement are evident in the work of Guston, visual forefather of the New Imagists and Chicago Imagists.• New Image painting is characterized by a cartoon-like figuration, often abrasive in subject matter, with some resemblance and debt to Neo-Expressionism.• New Imagists reacted to and incorporated the influence of modern American art since the rise of Abstract Expressionism. Philip Guston, The Studio, 1969. Oil on canvas, 48” x 42”. Private Collection.
• After years as an unsuccessful Abstract Expressionist painter, Guston made the transition from his abstract roots in the late 1960s, paving the way for New Imagist painting. Philip Guston, Zone, 1953-1954. Oil on Philip Guston, Painting, Smoking, Eating,1973. Oilcanvas, 46” x 48”. Edward R. Broida Trust, on canvas, 77” x 103”. Stedelijk Museum, L.A. Amsterdam.
New Image PaintingSusan Rothenberg (b. 1945)•The styling of New Imagist painters variedimmensely with little unifying elements beyond areturn to figuration.•Rothenberg’s style is much like Guston’s painterlyabstraction.•Like Rothenberg’s horse, which won herrecognition, New Image painting was steeped intradition yet added a modern sensibility andmeaning.•Rothenberg came to the horse in order to avoidthe figure.•Rothenberg’s formalist concerns were, in essence, Susan Rothenberg, Pontiac,Minimalist and descendant of Johns. 1979. Acrylic and Flashe on – She sought to activate the flatness and objectivity canvas, 7’4” x 5’ 1”. Private of the canvas. Collection.
New Image PaintingRobert Moskowitz (b.1935)•Imagists like Markowitz reintroduced the objectto painting in effort to lure the viewer.•Moskowitz delivers the iconic in his paintings butreduces them to their most abstract form.•In this effort he achieves an abstractiongrounded in the figural. Robert Moskowitz, Red Mills, 1981. Pastel on paper, 9’3” x 4’ ¾”. Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego.
New Image PaintingDonald Sultan (b. 1951)•The effort of the New Imagistswas not to totally disregard thepast but to instead embrace it andrecycle it, learn from it.•Artists like Sultan embraceabstraction, process, andexperimentation with materials.•They also reintroduce traditionalmotifs. Donald Sultan, Four Lemons, February 1, 1985, 1985. Oil, spackle, and tar on vinyl tile, 8’1” x 8’1”. Collection of the artist.
The Chicago Imagists, Monster Roster, and the Hairy Who • Chicago artists of the 1950s looked to de Kooning and Kline for models. – Though they looked toward de Kooning and Kline, they had no involvement or investment with the New York School. • The Chicago Imagists operated under 3 labels, The Chicago Imagists, The Hairy Who, and The Monster Roster. • They were also heavily influenced by Dubuffet who delivered his lecture, “Anticultural Positions” in 1951. • Unlike most areas of the U.S., Chicago artists maintained a strong relationship with the figure, setting their work apart from their contemporaries. • Most artists associated with The Chicago Imagists studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. • Their work is representational and surrealist in style. – It displays an interest in fantasy and the peculiar; it is usually grossly exaggerated and dedicated to the figurative.
The Chicago Imagists, Monster Roster, and the Hairy WhoH.C. Westermann (1922-1981)•Of The Chicago School of Imagists, it wasH.C. Westermann whose work defined itsdistinctive form.•His work is crass, unapologetic, andpolitically incorrect.•Westermann had anticipated theutilization of popular culture and psychoticart 10 years before it launched Chicagoartists into the international limelight.•Existentialist in theory, his work was acondemnation of militarism andconsumerism inspired by time spent in themilitary. H.C. Westermann, Battle of Little Big Horn, 1959. Oil on panel, 15” x 15”. Collection of Ann Janss, Los Angeles, CA
The Chicago Imagists, Monster Roster, and the Hairy WhoJim Nutt (b.1938)•Nutt was a founding member of TheChicago Imagists and showed with themand a smaller group known as the HairyWho.•The Hairy Who were a particularlyraunchy sect of The Chicago Imagists.•Nutt’s work is characterized by anadolescent restlessness and cartoonishstyle.•His employment of color is reminiscentof Expressionist painters. Jim Nutt, Its a Long Way Down, 1971. Acrylic on wood, 33 7/8” x 24 ¾”. Smithsonian American Art Museum.
The Chicago Imagists, Monster Roster, and the Hairy Who Edward Paschke (1939-2004)• Paschke’s work marries the finish of Photorealism with the subject matter and mood of The Chicago Imagists.• This enigmatic work suggests postmodernist angst and has been read as a contemporary rendering of The Edward Paschke, Durp Verde, 1978. Expulsion from the Lithograph, 4’ x 8’. Virginia Museum of Fine Garden of Eden. Arts, Richmond.
The Chicago Imagists, Monster Roster, and the Hairy WhoNancy Spero (1926-2009)•Interestingly, The Chicago Imagistshad a high population of femaleartists.•Spero’s work is abrasive andconfrontational.•She is associated with the sect ofChicago Imagists known as theMonster Roster whose work isparticularly existentialist andgruesome.•She is also associated with theFeminist Art Movement and her work Nancy Spero, Atom Bomb, 1966.often challenged gender assumptions Gouache and ink on paper, 24" x 36”.and misogyny. Estate of Nancy Spero, Images courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York.
New Image SculptureJoel Shapiro (b.1941)•The tendency to introduce the objectand figure back into art was also realizedin sculpture.•Like his painting contemporaries,Shapiro sought to activate certainelements of past artistic styles in hissculpture.•Works like House borrow Minimalistaesthetic but add a human dimension.•Shapiro rejected Minimalism’smonumentality however for the more Joel Shapiro, Untitled (Houseintimate in scale. on Shelf), 1974. Bronze, 12 7/8” x 2 ½” x 28 ½”. Museum of Modern Art.
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