january 12 / 2009

As usual, two pupils were there. I left Abstract Expressionism behind and moved towards geometric abstraction, whose attitude is connected to the rejection of emotion and of subjective traces in the finished work. I was interested in a specific area of this segment from the history of art.

Using simple geometric forms and the reduction of color to uniform surfaces, those who produced shaped canvases in the 60s and 70s came very close to minimalism.

I chose Frank Stella because I had to explain where the formal explorations of the painters of the period were heading. They were interested in the relationship between the field of the painting and its borders, which Stella renders visible by using parallel lines.

Once the relationship is discovered, one can go even further towards the deformation of the rectangle of the painting itself.

Elsworth Kelly imagines new shapes for the painting, but he also uses color in order to have a powerful visual impact on the viewer.

Without representation or decoration, Kelly's geometric and colored painting is very close to the 'what you see is what you see' phrase, which was so important for the minimalists.

Richard Tuttle is an atypical example in this context, just as Barnett Newman's The Wild was in the context of Abstract Expressionism. Tuttle is associated with post-minimalism, but his connection with the shaped canvas movement is visible. However, Tuttle goes even further than Stella and Kelly, by refusing to use the coldness of geometric form.

He is still building well-defined shapes, but they are very sensuous, either by their color, or through the fact that the hand of the artist is visible in the wavy outlines of objects, which are not so sharp as in the case of the other two. Moreover, he adds an uneven surface to his pieces, which accentuates the exit from painting and the entering into a borderline area neighboring sculpture.