Paintings by Hilma af Klint (1862-1944)
Five years before Wassily Kandinsky (he of the book Concerning the Spiritual In Art, 1910), before Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich, before the images of Carl Jung and Rudolf Steiner—who dismissed her ideas as wrong—was this revolutionary artist and abstractionist, Hilma af Klint, possibly the first purely abstract painter to produced non-objective works in the early 1900s.Hilma af Klint was influenced by contemporary spiritual movements, such as spiritism, theosophy and, later, anthroposophy. Her oeuvre builds on the awareness of a spiritual dimension of consciousness, an aspect that was being marginalised in an increasingly materialistic world. When she painted, she believed that a higher consciousness was speaking through her. In her astonishing works she combines geometric shapes and symbols with ornamentation. Her multifaceted imagery strives to give insights into the different dimensions of existence, where microcosm and macrocosm reflect one another.
Ricardo Cases, Paloma al Aire, 2011
Wang Tzu-Ting, Big wind 2, acrylic and pencil on canvas, 2010
Roman Opalka, details from OPALKA 1965/ 1-∞, 1965-2011
In 1965, in his studio in Warsaw, Opalka began painting a process of counting—from one to infinity. Starting in the top left-hand corner of the canvas and finishing in the bottom right-hand corner, the tiny numbers are painted in horizontal rows. Each new canvas, which the artist calls a ‘detail’, takes up counting where the last left off. Each ‘detail’ is the same size (196 x 135 cm), the dimension of his studio door in Warsaw. All details have the same title, 1965/1-∞; the idea does not date although the artist has pledged his life to its execution: ‘All my work is a single thing, the description from number one to infinity. A single thing, a single life.’ (via)
Opalka died on August 6, 2011. The final number he painted was 5,607,249.
"Time as we live it and as we create it embodies our progressive disappearance,” Opalka wrote in an essay in 1987. “We are at the same time alive and in the face of death — that is the mystery of all living beings.”
René Magritte, works from the Période vache (1947-1948)
Regarding both their motifs and their style, the works of Magritte’s Période vache do not constitute a consistent ensemble but rather present themselves as a patchwork of different pseudo-styles borrowing more or less openly from other artists and drawing on the artist’s own earlier works. These elements are transformed into something comic, trivial, or grotesque by being blended with aspects of popular visual culture. With numerous art historical references Magritte ridicules traditional cultural values and aesthetic norms and distances himself from an art scene lusting for innovation. Contrary to his “classical” works, their cool, precise and realistic approach, and the conceptual consideration behind them, the works of Magritte’s Période vache strike us as colorful, two-dimensional, quickly painted, and radiating an astounding directness and spontaneity.
With his manifesto-like protest against all varieties of arrogance and reprimands in the arts, Magritte has become a model for the artist’s triumph over the workings of an art scene that seem to be more overpowering today than they ever were. (via)
Works by Shōmei Tōmatsu
The atomic bomb, American occupation and the fragmentation of traditional values defined the post-War generation in Japan. As an active part of avant-garde artistic circles, Tōmatsu avidly chronicled the life and mores of bohemia, where he found salient evidence of this cultural shift. Applying his keenly surreal eye to the human body, Tōmatsu creates a disquieting sense of freedom and abandon. His oeuvre, in the words of writer Leo Rubinfien ‘presses us still harder with another, different kind of ambiguity, fundamentally modern, fundamentally photographic, and distant from the exquisite fogs, magical gestures and decorous circumspection of classical Japan.’ (via)
Lucian Freud, Self Portrait, 1956, oil on canvas
John Baldessari, Four Events and Reactions, 1975
Kazuo Shiraga painting at the 2nd Gutai Art Exhibition, Tokyo, 1956, photographs by Kiyoji Otsuji
Cy Twombly, panel from Coronation of Sesostris, 2000, acrylic, pencil, and crayon on canvas
Louise Bourgeois, Rejection, Rejected, Reject, Rebound, 2005, thread and pencil on cloth