MEL: 132: Western Aesthetics
13 July 2011
Literalism and Abstraction:
Frank Stella's Retrospective
At the Modern
Also, a picture isn't abstract just because the artist doesn't know when it's finished. Pollock's message wasn't 'Go Wild'; it was (1) keep the field even and without dominant image or incident; (2) be careful about colour; (3) keep the space as free from the space needed to depict three-dimensional forms as possible; (4) eliminate gesture, let the method chosen seem to generate the picture.
Topic Sentence: Both abstraction and literalism look to Pollock for sanction; it is as if his work was the last achievement of whose status every serious artist is convinced.
Key words: Pollock, Stella, Cubist grid.
Topic sentence: The literalist view of Pollock emerged somewhat more hazily, less explicitly, more in argument and conversation than in published criticism.
Key words: paint, canvas, handprints, cigarette butts.
Topic sentence: In short, the greatness of the abstraction is in large measure a function of the literalness of Pollock's approach.
Key words: objectness of painting,
Topic sentence: Abstraction was discovering that objectness was the thing to beat, and that the breakthrough to look for was a breakthrough to an inspired two – dimensionalism, and that the way to do it was through colour, and, as much as possible, through colour alone.
Key words: abstraction
Topic sentence: One college student, Stella, saw in John a way to an advanced all overness.
Key words: possibilities of a centred image.
Topic sentence: Stella was crucially interested in keeping his pictures flat because he was crucially interested in making abstract pictures that could survive as post Pollock art.
Key words: Stella's anti literalist ideas, abstract pictures.
Topic sentence: Thus if you are going to make an abstract painting, then you cannot make it in the kind of space used for non-abstract painting.
Key words: abstract painting, non abstract painting.
Topic sentence: The main criticism of the pictures seems to have been that they had nothing to say
Key words: none
Topic sentence: The incipient move into three dimensions implied in Stella's paintings is made manifestly clear in Andre's work of the early 1960s,most explicitly in a work like the 1959-60 untitled construction.
Key words: literal objectness of Stella's paintings, three dimensions, presumption of literalism, literalist.
Topic sentence: The differences between Andre and Judd emerged slowly and steadily all through the 1960s; Andre was to consistently limit himself to solutions that were respectful of, and consonant with, the problems of sculpture, while Judd's indifference to sculpture and its problems would become more obvious every day.
Key words: Minimal Art
Topic sentence: The minimal art craze set everyone back for years; the job of criticism now would seem to be patiently undo the damage and carefully begin the work of revealing the development of a literalist art in America which extends quite unbrokenly from about 1959 to the present and which, in one way or another, involves in its network at least part of the work of artists as diverse as Andre, Judd, Flavin, Serra, Heizer, Morris.
Key words: anti form process or anti illusion.
Topic sentence: The abstractionist critics- mainly Clement Greenberg, then Michael Fried ,William Rubin and others in greater or lesser degree- had, by the mid -1960s,done monumental work.
Key words: Literalism, abstractionist criticism
Topic sentence: Abstractionist criticism tended to ignore the literalists except when it had to deal with Stella.
Key words: Abstractionist criticism
Topic sentence: As the 1960s drew to a close, the relationship between literalism and abstraction in American art changed considerably.
Key words: Abstract expressionists of the mid -1940s
Topic sentence: Certainly by 1969 and 1970, Stella had thoroughly loosened the overall design structure and seems to have systematically turned more and more of the authority of the paintings over to colour.
Key words: design structure, Stella's art.