joan-mitchell-grace-hartigan-helen-frankenthaler

“The women of the historic Ninth Street Show had a will of iron and an intense need for their talent to be expressed, no matter the cost.”

The New Yorker

I spent some time this morning reading Elizabeth Karp-Evans’ (Guernica) refreshing conversation with contemporary artist Sarah Crowner. When asked about the abstract curved and geometrical patterns that recur in her painting, Crowner cites her long walks in the Californian countryside as a key inspiration. The artist also discusses how she came to pursue her vocation as an artist, and how she perceives art as an active method of thinking and reflection. (more…)

Grace Hartigan
Grace Hartigan

“I feel that we are living a very fragmented life; the whole world — you too. So I perceive the world in fragments. It is somewhat like being on a very fast train and getting glimpses of things in strange scales as you pass by. A person can be very, very tiny. And a billboard can make a person very large. You see the corner of a house or you see a bird fly by, and it’s all fragmented. Somehow, in painting I try to make some logic out of the world that has been given to me in chaos. I have a very pretentious idea that I want to make life, I want to make sense out of it. The fact that I am doomed to failure — that doesn’t deter me in the least.”

Grace Hartigan

Rosalind E. Krauss talks about the life and work of the American abstract expressionist painter
Rosalind E. Krauss, Willem de Kooning Nonstop: Cherchez la femme (Columbia University Press, 2016)
Rosalind E. Krauss, Willem de Kooning Nonstop: Cherchez la femme (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

How did you first encounter Willem de Kooning’s paintings? What is it about his work that appeals to you?

The Phillips Collection in Washington D. C. has a particularly beautiful de Kooning: Asheville, 1948. I was always fascinated by it but frustrated that I couldn’t articulate its effect on me. It made me want to look for other de Koonings and to read the literature on his work—initially that in Art News, such as Tom Hess’s “De Kooning Paints a Picture.”  I was disappointed by this literature which I found merely effusive rather than analytical.

What motivated you to write a book about his work?

I had written my senior thesis on de Kooning at Wellesley College; then, when I saw the 2011 MoMA retrospective, curated by John Elderfield, I felt I had things to say about the paintings that no one had expressed before. (more…)

Marissa Grunes (The Paris Review) discusses her mother’s memorization of Stevens’ ‘Sunday Morning’

When “Sunday Morning” was first published in the November 1915 issue of Poetry, just over a hundred years ago, Wallace Stevens was thirty-six; the poem was one of his first major publications. He’d recently moved to the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, where he would spend the rest of his life insuring people against the hazards of sudden change. His professional and poetic lives converged on that fact: everything changes.

A spiritual meditation for a secular era, “Sunday Morning” glows with the ripe colors of late summer and early autumn, brief arc segments of the seasonal cycle whose rhythms Stevens celebrates. (more…)

Ryan Steadman (Observer Culture) on a new retrospective at Denver Art Museum
Under-recognized female artists throughout history are slowly but surely starting to get the attention they deserve. First there was a look at the women of the Surrealist movement at Sotheby’s last summer, and now a show that’s being dubbed the “first museum exhibition dedicated to the women of Abstract Expressionism” is set to open at the Denver Art Museum in June.

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John Reed reviews Michael Peppiatt’s new memoir about the twentieth-century painter

When Michael Peppiatt, at 21, met Francis Bacon, the 53-year-old artist was already all artifice, well spoken when well rehearsed, his bistro doctrines applauded by clinking glasses. Peppiatt, having taken over a student arts journal at Cambridge, had shown up in London’s Soho. It was 1963, and Peppiatt laid claim to but a tenuous introduction to the renowned painter he sought. At the bar of the French House, the youth was handled by the photographer John Deakin, who loudly advised: “My dear, you should consider that the maestro you mention has as of late become so famous that she no longer talks to the flotsam and jetsam. . . . I fear she wouldn’t even consider meeting a mere student like you!” (more…)