ABSTRACTIONS/ LETTER-BASED WORK
Beginning in graduate school (University at Buffalo) and continuing into the early 1980s, I was a hard-nosed (OK, sometimes a soft-nosed) abstractionist. I pursued my version of color field painting, sprayed interior fields that were supported by various framing devices--bars and stripes--that punctuated the edges(see Deep Red, above, left). Geometric abstraction became my chief direction during most of the 70s, until one day in 1982 I abruptly set it aside in favor a loose, cartoonish figure, The main influence of this shift came from Philip Guston's late work. (I, like a whole band of artists, was staggered by how Guston managed to so powerfully unite painterly abstraction and the low-down drawing of the comics.) But geometry was so part of my responses by then that I still found ways to incorporate it into my new figurative work, and some of the intentional awkwardness and unrelenting bluntness of my abstractions featuring arrays of triangles against a field of color carried over into my figures. Geometry had already appeared in my earliest serious painting, often accompanied by a painterly approach (see Score in Ochre, 1963) or, briefly, by a combed-paint texture (see Pink Square in Morning Light and Night Path, both 1966). In a few years, after my bout with color field painting, Barnett Newman began to exert a strong influence on my work. In the triangles I strove to achieve a brand of non-relational painting by setting up compositions that refused to quite jell, each element stubbornly demanding its independence despite the pull of the other elements. It was an art of the near-miss.
Blue-Violet, acrylic on canvas, 1972.
Night Path, oil on panel, 1966.
Cool Landscape, oil on canvas, 1962.
Score in Ochre, oil on canvas, 1962.
Pink Square in Morning Light, oil on panel, 1966.