Page 20 - Studio International - January 1966
P. 20

American abstract expressionism and hard edge:

                               some comparisons  by Matthew Baigell

                               A number of critics have commented on the differences   with a content and meaning, regardless of the shapes
                               and similarities between American Abstract Expression-  and colours on its surface.
                               ism and the current hard edge modes of Pop, Op and   For the styles that characterised American art of the
                               Concrete Expressionism or the New Abstraction. The   1950's and now describe the 1960's, Statements are
                               distinguishing features on the one hand, as well as   especially helpful, particularly for the painting that
                               the extensions and transformations on the other, have   needs no explanation compositionally but does so
                               been well chronicled by Dore Ashton, Michael Fried   with regard to meaning. To be sure, many of the
                               and Irving Sandler among others. Indeed, we now have   statements recorded below are well known, but they
                               a literature in-embryo not unlike that dealing with the   take on added nuances and strength, their differences
                               relations and reactions of Mannerism to the High   or similarities are heightened, when closely juxtaposed.
                                Renaissance.                                      In this article I use these sayings to point out some of
                                The paintings, of course, tell the story, but since most   the differences between the two generations of post-
                               of the modern ones are non-figurative it becomes  war American art.
                               important to note carefully the attitudes the artist brings   In their protracted voyage to the centre of their beings,
                               to the blank canvas as well as his thoughts concerning   Abstract Expressionists responded to a variety of needs
                               the process of making a painting. These are revealed,   and pressures. With their youth spent in a Depression
       Robert Motherwell
       Elegy to the Spanish Republic   quite readily, in statements by artists, and they invariably   and their young manhood scarred by World War II,
       XXXIV  1953-54
       80 x 100 in.            form the most reliable guide available to the observer.   they no longer found tenable the straitjackets of
       Albright-Knox Art Gallery   With the information about the artist's intention which   American-scene painting, traditional realism or
       Buffalo, New York
       Gift of Seymour H. Knox   they provide we are better able to invest a painting   decorative Cubism. With technology rendering the
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