december 8 / 2008

The second time five pupils came. I made a short review of what I had presented the first time, then started to show them some paintings by the American Abstract Expressionists. I talked to them about Pollock, Rothko and Newman, trying to outline the link between them and European Figurative Expressionism. In order to do so, I used some images by Derrain and Matisse.

By pointing to the exaggerated color of the two Fauvist painters, I wanted to talk about the Modernist need to give up imitating reality, which in turn led to the rejection of representation by the American Abstract Expressionists.

My pupils seemed to understand art through the idea of figurative easel painting. This is why I used Rothko as an example, for the sensuality of his color offered a bit more visually to the untrained eye than Newman's intellectual attitude.

By making comments on Rothko's painting I intended to underline the similarities between him and Newman: color fields, vertical or horizontal lines, a blurry geometry compared to a precise and clear cut one in Newman's paintings.

Comments like - I could have done this myself / why is this art? - came up - questions that were perfectly legitimate, to which I had to respond with information regarding the exhaustion of the possibilities of painting in the 40's and 50's due to the avant-garde, but also to talk about the gradual rejection of representation in painting, caused by the use of photography. I found the image below only later, but it best sums up some of the reactions.

My aim was to get to the transition point between perceptive and conceptual arts, which I illustrated using Barnett Newman's The Wild, which is a 243 cm high and 4.1 cm wide canvas. In my opinion, this painting is a hyperlink between Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Conceptual Art.

The work is easily translated into text: a canvas measuring 243 cm x 4.1 cm, covered in two shades of red. This makes it one of the objects that could be produced or built, but without it being absolutely necessary, according to an attitude that conceptual art would make use of later on.