For Your Consideration…

When I want to take a break from painting, I sometimes drop into one of my many art books that mostly accumulate on the shelf, forlorn, rarely examined except for pictures, and never finished. So, I was surprised to find that I read Edith Schloss’ The Loft Generation: From the De Koonings to Twombly’s cover to cover, and even took it home to finish reading.  Schloss was part of the New York art scene, partygoer, good friend, lover and above all a skilled, often funny and insightful observer of artists who changed the course of the post-World War II art world. This lively, well-written book shows a vibrant, small, intimate downtown scene showcasing the men and women who thought they were changing the world with their art.

I’ve been disappointed by art books so many times (hence their home on my dusty shelves) so perhaps 10 people had to recommend Mary Gabriel’s ‘Ninth Street Women’ before I bought the book. Edith Schloss set the perfect stage for Gabriel’s in-depth profiles about Lee Krasner, Elaine De Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler. Gabriel is a lively, thoughtful writer and skillfully interweaves the lives of these remarkable women into both the art and business scene. The book is long (732 pages plus 200 pages of footnotes) making it a lot to schlep back and forth from home to studio, but I looked forward to each time I justified a long studio break to read.

Superficially immersed in the birth of abstract expressionism in New York City, and the people who made it happen, I thought I should tackle the big guy, Jackson Pollock. From the jacket blurb of Michael Schreyach’s ‘Pollock’s Modernism’ a quote [his interpretation] “is based on a phenomenological investigation of the pictorial effects of particular paintings.” I dipped in and thought it might be helpful to identify a few phrases should you, too, wish to sound scholarly in describing your work:

  • Dialectical play
  • Planar limits
  • Achromatic value scale
  • Notional amputation
  • Referent cause
  • Corporeal intimacy
  • Interpretive oscillation
  • Valorizing marks
  • Indexical signs
  • Volumetric space
  • Pictorial dimensionality
  • Delimitation of flatness

And my favorite ‘iconic enantiomorphism.’

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