an overview of abstraction, drawn from the contemporary American
Abstract Artists group, featuring Alice Adams, Martin Ball,
Siri Berg, Sharon Brant, Michael Brennan, Marvin Brown, Ken Bushnell,
Matthew Deleget, Gabrielle Evertz, Heidi Gluck, Gail Gregg, Phillis
Ideal, Julian Jackson, Cecily Kahn, Marthe Keller, Vincent Longo,
Creighton Michael, James Juszczyk, Rossanna Martinez, John Phillips,
David Row, Babe Shapiro, Don Voisine, Stephen Westfall, and Nola
American Abstract Artists (AAA) was founded in 1936 to unite multigenerational American artists working abstractly, providing them a forum for exhibition and discussion of their work. Since its inception, AAA has played a pivotal role in the evolution of non-objective art in America. Prominent past members of AAA over the years have included: Josef Albers, Jean Arp, Robert Ryman, Ad Reinhardt, Piet Mondrian, Louise Nevelson, Sol Lewitt, Brice Marden, Lee Krasner, Robert Smithson, George Rickey, and Clement Greenberg. Membership is by invitation only, and the current roster is rich in high caliber artists working in a diversity of abstract styles and media continuing to build on this living tradition. "... the AAA owes its longevity in part to the relative absence of a party line. The will to abstraction, after all, is generated by a variety of private impulses and historical interpretations...The art world is much larger than it was when the AAA was founded. The proliferation and hybridization of abstractionist styles has clearly been accommodated and encouraged by the group." writes member Stephen Westfall.
1.) a standard or
principle to which people aspire,
2.) a concept that exists in the imagination only
The above definitions apply to the optimistic confidence of modernism and its' outgrowth; abstraction. The idealism which fueled the modernist abstract movement in the beginnings of the last century encountered confusion and hostility on the part of the mainstream American audience, but it still speaks to our inner yearnings for clarity and focus in our visually over-stimulated world of 2005. The artists presented in Ideal are committed to an abstract art practice that directly communicates through the experience of pure visual information. These 25 artists share a common thread of clarity in conceptualization and execution though they employ myriad presentational strategies to delineate interests in architectural concerns, minimalism, optical phenomena, process, gesture, mark making, materiality and the ephemeral nature of light.
Gabriele Evertz's optical painting is eye-candy building excitement through the use of pure color vibration. Vincent Longo and Stephen Westfall employ similarly musical techniques in their paintings but via subtler means. Their colors tend toward the pastel and the natural. The pleasures of minimal clarity combined with the powers of pure color are represented by the reductive encaustic work of Gail Gregg, Don Voisine's painting with its shifting bright planes, and in James Juszczyk's subtle tonal gradations. Ken Bushnell's shaped canvas and Marvin Brown's untitled sculpture explore the negative and surrounding spaces of a simplified and reduced shape. Emphasizing the material nature of paint are the paintings of Siri Berg and Michael Brennan who's textured fields allude to objectness. Julian Jackson's soft brushwork and inner glowing color, Sharon Brant's light phenomena, and Heidi Glück's expanded edges on the other hand, work to de-materialize paint and the object in favor of a subtle ephemera. The physical act and process of painting couched in a formal construct is explored by Nola Zirin's thick scraped surfaces, Cecily Kahn's dripping take on cubism, and Marthe Keller's insouciant acrylic washes. The manipulation of the formal construct to reflect architecture and the domestic space, is represented by Matthew Deleget's paean to vernacular building forms, Rosanna Martinez's site specific floor piece, and Alice Adams dome structured sculptural model. An interest in gesture is shared by the poured surfaces of Phyllis Ideal, Martin Ball's looping lines, and David Row's assertive calligraphy. Making use of obsessive mark making to construct all over patterns referencing the microcosmic are Creighton Michael's installation in which cast shadows create delicate lines and Babe Shapiro's, soft bleeding watercolor dots. A whimsical send up of abstraction by John Phillips crossing Albers with cartoon inspired pop rounds out the exhibition with a touch of humor.