The Return of Abstract Expressionism, (1969)

Curator’s Catalog Introduction,

Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California.


When Jackson Pollock and Morris Louis let the paint leave their hands, gravity formed the shape of a stain on the raw canvas. This exhibition of abstract expressionism is a direct extension of the painting of the ‘50s; the action is the same, only the dimensions are different. The gesture is the same and the procedures similar, if more athletic. The artists exhibit the same love of organic and natural forces. They place a similar emphasis on the role of accident and chance.


The renewed interest in natural forces and raw materials exists for several reasons. There is certainly a tremendous dissatisfaction with the destructive forces of modern culture: war, pollution, and the generally widespread ignorance of nature. Another influence is the popularity of drug use, and the religious importance that it places on an awareness of our environment and also upon the reality of natural processes and environment. But perhaps more importantly, the artists are not interested in producing objects. The majority of the pieces exist only for the duration of the show. There are no photographs in the catalog because some work cannot be seen before installation. In fact, several artists have sent only instructions for the creation of their works. It would harm the intent of the works to frame or reduce them to the degree needed for reproduction, and the nature of the work precludes reproduction. For the first time, the artist is freeing himself from the object. As a result, the historian is now faced with the responsibility of recording the work. The artist is involved with the direct manipulation of materials that possess qualities of spontaneity and improvisation, and those materials normally produce dispensable work.


It is the act of creation which is art.




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