Art of the 20th Century



Postwar Developments & Contemporary Art


 

 


Art Styles in 20th century Art Map



 


Art in the Postwar Period

 


 

     

     


Artists Groups - 1950-1953
Exat-51. 1950
Luminism. Term coined c. 1950
Matter painting. Term applied to a style of painting-1950
Action Painting - 1952

Art Abstrait.
Belgian art group-1952
Art autre. Term-1952
Boom style. Term-1952
Washington Color Painters - 1952
Gruppo degli Otto Pittori Italiani. Italian group-1952
Independent Group. British group of artists, architects and critics-1952
Quadriga. German group of painters-1952
New Brutalism. Term-1953
New Empiricism. 1953
Gruppe 53. German group of painters-1953
Painters Eleven. Canadian group of painters-1953

     

Tachism - 1954
Wols (Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze)

     

Artists Groups - 1954-1960
Spatialisme.
Term coined in 1954
Gutai. Japanese group of artists-1954
Kitchen Sink school. English group of painters -1954
Colour field painting. Term-1955
Les Plasticiens. Canadian group of artists-1955
Semantic art. Term-1957
Neo-Dada-1958
Hard-edge painting. Term-1958
Spur. German group of painters and sculptors-1958
Zero. International group of artists -1958
Arte generativo. Style of Argentine painting-1959
Gruppo T. Italian group of artists-1959
Antipodean group. Australian group of artists-1959
Gruppo N. Italian group of artists-1959
Neo-Dadaism Organizers-1960
Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel .
Group of artists in Paris from 1960
Nul [Dut.: ‘Zero’]. Group of Dutch artists-1960
Situation. Title of an exhibition of British abstract painting-1960

 



 

_____________

Exat-51
[Eksperimentalni atelje; Croat.: ‘experimental atelier’].

Croatian group of artists active in Zagreb from 1950 to 1956. Its members were the architects Bernardo Bernardi (1912–85), Zdravko Bregovac (b 1924), Zvonimir Radic (1921–83), Bozidar Rasica (1912–92), Vjenceslav Richter (b 1917) and Vladimir Zarahovic, and the painters Vlado Kristl (b 1922), Ivan Picel and Aleksandar Srnec (b 1924). On 7 December they united officially at the plenary meeting of the Association of Applied Artists of Croatia (Croat. Udruzenje likovnih umjetnika primijenjenih umjetnosti Hrvatske (ULUPUH)), at which time they proclaimed their manifesto. The group was formed to protest against the dominance of officially sanctioned Socialist Realism and the condemnation of all forms of abstraction and motifs unacceptable in Communist doctrine as decadent and bourgeois. In its manifesto, Exat-51 emphasized that such an attitude contradicted the principles of Socialist development, that the differences between so-called ‘pure’ art and ‘applied’ art were non-existent and that abstract art could enrich the field of visual communication. The activity of the group was therefore to spring from the existing social situation and, as such, to contribute to the progress of society. The principal intention was to attain a synthesis of all branches of the fine arts and to encourage artistic experimentation. At the first Exat-51 exhibition in February 1953, held in Zagreb at the Hall of the Architects’ Society of Croatia, works by Picelj, Kristl, Srnec and Rasica were featured; the exhibition was later shown in Belgrade. The group made an important contribution in helping to free Yugoslav artists from predominant Stalinist dogmas, and its members later continued to work in a more individual manner, still adhering, however, to the main ideas set out in the manifesto.

_____________
 

 



 

_____________

Luminism

Term coined c. 1950 by the art historian John I. H. Baur to define a style in 19th-century American painting characterized by the realistic rendering of light and atmosphere. It was never a unified movement but rather an attempt by several painters working in the USA to understand the mysteries of nature through a precise, detailed rendering of the landscape. Luminism flourished c. 1850–75 but examples are found both earlier and later. Its principal practitioners were FITZ HUGH LANE, MARTIN JOHNSON HEADE, ALFRED THOMPSON BRICHER, DAVID JOHNSON and Francis Augustus Silva (1835–86). Several artists of the HUDSON RIVER SCHOOL, among them SANFORD ROBINSON GIFFORD, JOHN F. KENSETT and ALBERT BIERSTADT, painted works that could be considered examples of Luminism, as did such Canadian painters as LUCIUS R. O’BRIEN (e.g. Sunrise on the Saguenay, 1880; Ottawa, N.G.).

_____________
 

 



 




_____________

Matter painting.

Term applied to a style of painting that originated in Europe in the 1950s, often abstract in form, emphasizing the physical quality of thick impasto into which tactile materials such as metal, sand, shells and cement might be added. More specifically it refers to the work of Dutch painters such as Bram Bogart and Jaap Wagemaker and Belgian painters such as Bert de Leeuw (b 1926), René Guiette (b 1893) and Marc Mendelson (b 1915). This expressive style was not bound to any specific aesthetic and was used by each artist to different ends. In Wagemaker’s Cruel Desert (1965; Bochum, Mus. Bochum, Kstsamml.), for example, the effect is violent and brutal through the incorporation of teeth into the composition. The works of Guiette, however, were more contemplative and abstract, intended as meditations on the nature of painting and its materials, as in Work in White (1958). Among the other European painters in relation to whose work the term is often used are Jean Dubuffet, Jean Fautrier, Rene Burri and Antoni Tapies.
 

_____________
 

 



 


_____________

Action Painting

In the early 1940s, an art movement arose in New York that was inspired by the automatism theories of the Surrealists, but at the same time driven by Expressionist tendencies. The work was very distant from figurative art, and its subject matter was the actual painting process itself. It became known as "Action Painting", a term coined in 1952 by American critic Harold Rosenberg. The works were produced with great speed to denote an urgency of communication. While the spontaneity of the gestures created the results, the general term "gestural painting" was used to describe them. Jackson Pollock (1912-56) worked in this vein, pouring, splashing, and dripping paint onto a canvas spread on the ground in an attempt to interact directly with it. Franz Kline (1910-62), on the other hand, used a decorator's flat brush to make sweeping black lines on a white background with a gestural vehemence of great visual impact. Sam Francis (1923-94) adopted similar methods to Pollock, using the drip technique on large canvases, but he achieved less convincing results. Outcomes such as these demonstrated how. in the absence of any real direction to the process, an artistic style based on the combination of colours in varying ways ran the risk of becoming reduced to decorative superficiality. However, a particular place in the movement is reserved for Willem de Kooning (1904-97), who, while definitely a gestural artist. maintained an essentially realistic stance. His paintings are energetic abstractions that nonetheless display organic or biomorphic forms. The human figure is a central theme: for example, in his Women series, the shapes are just barely discernible, even though the brush has distorted their form in its construction - or destruction - of them. The figures seem close to disintegration and yet maintain a haunting presence within the whirl of colour that engulfs them.
_____________
 

 



 

 


ACTION PAINTING IN ITALY

Action Painting found counter parts in Italy in the highly gestural work of the artists Emilio Vedova (1919-2006) and Mattia Moreni (1920-1999). In the early 1950s. Vedova began to handle the syncopated rhythm of his geometric shapes with more ebullience, creating tension on the canvas between contrasting elements. Moreni's style, on the other hand, featured large brushstrokes in bright colours that ran over the canvas in a rampant frenzy, representing in their size and thickness the psychological and physical energy that generated them.
 



Mattia Moreni
(
1920-1999)



Untitled



AN 143 RD



Self Portrait





 


Emilio Vedova
(
1919-2006)


Untitled

 




 

_____________

Art Abstrait

Belgian art group designed to propagate abstract art. It was formed in April 1952 as a successor to JEUNE PEINTURE BELGE by the artists Jean Milo (b 1906), Jo Delahaut (b 1911), Pol Bury, Georges Carrey (1902–53), Léopold Plomteux (b 1920), George Collignon (b 1923) and Jan Saverys (b 1924), who were joined later that year by Jan Burssens (b 1925) and Hauror. The group first exhibited in 1952 at the Cercle Artistique in Ghent, the Galerie Le Parc in Charleroi and the Galerie Arnaud in Paris and also travelled to Britain. The following year it exhibited at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, the Association pour le Progrès Intellectuel et Artistique de la Wallonie in Liège and at the Salle Comité voor Artistieke Werking in Antwerp. The members of the group had no unifying style or aesthetic apart from being non-figurative. The abstract styles within the group ranged from thickly impastoed informal works such as Carrey’s Composition (1953; Brussels, Musées Royaux A. & Hist.) to hard-edged works such as Delahaut’s Besoar (1953). In 1954 Delahaut, Bury and the writers Jean Séaux and Karel Elno published a manifesto that introduced the concept of SPATIALISME, thus marking the end of Art Abstrait. Delahaut’s ideas about abstraction led to his co-founding the group Formes with the writers Séaux and Maurits Blicke in 1956. This was designed to realize the ideas of the Spatialisme manifesto, as shown, for example, in the abstraction of Delahaut’s Recall to Order (1955). Again short-lived, the Formes group exhibited in 1956 at Morlanwelz-Mariemont in Hainaut and in 1957 at the Galerie Accent in Antwerp.

_____________

 

 



 

_____________


Art autre
[Fr.: ‘other art’].

Term coined in a book published in 1952 by French writer and critic Michel Tapié to describe the kind of art many intellectuals and artists deemed appropriate to the turbulent mood of France immediately after World War II. He organized an exhibition entitled Un Art autre for the Studio Facchetti, in Paris, also in 1952. Inspired in part by the ideas of Vasily Kandinsky, by Existentialist philosophy and by the widespread admiration for alternative art forms (notably child art, psychotic art and ‘primitive’ non-Western art), Tapié advocated an art that worked through ‘paroxysm, magic, total ecstasy’, in which ‘form, transcended, is heavy with the possibilities of becoming’. He wrote of the need for ‘temperaments ready to break up everything, whose works were disturbing, stupefying, full of magic and violence to re-route the public. To re-route into a real future that mass of so-called advanced public, hardened like a sclerosis around a cubism finished long ago (but much prolonged), misplaced geometric abstraction, and a limited puritanism which above anything else blocks the way to any possible, authentically fertile future’. Although the term has been used more or less interchangeably with ART INFORMEL and TACHISM as embodied in the expressive and non-geometric abstract work of artists such as Georges Mathieu, Henri Michaux and Wols, it also embraced the more figurative concerns of artists such as Jean Fautrier, Victor Brauner and Jean Dubuffet.
 

_____________
 

 



 

_____________


Boom style.

Term apparently coined by Robin Boyd in Australia’s Home (1952) and loosely applied to highly ornate architecture in a classical idiom that was fashionable in the eastern states of Australia between the late 1870s and early 1890s. The style was made possible by, and is to some extent an expression of, the financial boom that followed the discovery of gold in 1851. The climax of the boom was in the 1880s in Victoria, where the richest goldfields were located. The buildings most commonly associated with the Boom style are the richly decorated Italianate villas and speculative terrace houses of Melbourne. The English picturesque Italianate fashion had been introduced to Australia by the early 1840s but only reached its sumptuous apogee in Victoria in the late 1880s. The architecture is characterized by asymmetrical towers, balustraded parapets, polygonal bay windows and round-arched openings and arcades, though the terrace houses often lack the more elaborate features. The buildings were usually stuccoed and enriched with mass-produced Renaissance-style elements in cast cement. They frequently incorporate cast-iron filigree verandahs, prefabricated in sections. A typical stuccoed villa is Wardlow (1888), Carlton, Melbourne, by John Boyes. Other Italianate Boom style work was carried out in rich polychromatic brickwork, which was characteristic of Melbourne. The other fashionable idiom commonly included in the Boom style category is French Second Empire, employed for example at Labassa (1890), a lavish house in Caulfield, Melbourne, by John A. B. Koch, and the town hall (1883–5) at Bendigo by W. C. Vahland. The Boom style rapidly declined during the depression of the 1890s.

_____________
 

 



 

_____________


Washington Color Painters.

Group of American painters based in Washington, DC, who from the mid-1950s responded to Abstract Expressionism by producing non-gestural, totally abstract canvases that stressed the optical effects created by the interrelationships of various colours. Named retrospectively in a survey exhibition held in 1965, they worked in a number of different styles including those loosely referred to as POST-PAINTERLY ABSTRACTION, HARD-EDGE PAINTING and COLOUR FIELD PAINTING, but all used acrylic paints. One of the most influential of the painters, Morris Louis, moved in 1952 from his native Baltimore to Washington, DC, where he met several like-minded artists at the Washington Workshop for the Arts, founded by local painter Leon Berkowitz (1915–87). Following the example of Helen Frankenthaler, Louis began in the early 1950s to pour extremely thin acrylic paints directly on to unprimed canvases to produce ‘stains’ of overlapping, translucent colours. The work of most of his colleagues, however, and particularly that of Kenneth Noland, was characterized by hard-edged, geometric abstract forms and especially by repeating patterns, such as concentric circles and chevrons, from which Noland produced series of works (Kenneth Noland). The third principal group member was Gene Davis (1920–85), a native of Washington, who began painting in 1958 and quickly developed his signature approach of narrow, vertical stripes of colour that covered the entire canvas surface from edge to edge. The other painters who participated in the exhibition of 1965 and continued to be associated with the group were Thomas Downing (b 1928), Howard Mehring (b 1931) and Paul Reed (b 1919).

_____________


 


Kenneth Noland
(American Abstract Expressionist Painter, born in 1924)



Horizontal Stripes (III-27)



Crepusculo



Shadow on the Earth

 




 

_____________


Gruppo degli Otto Pittori Italiani.

Italian group of eight painters. It was formed in 1952 after the disintegration of FRONTE NUOVO DELLE ARTI. Six of them had belonged to the earlier group: Renato Birolli, Antonio Corpora, Ennio Morlotti, Emilio Vedova, Giuseppe Santomaso and Giulio Turcato; the other founder-members were Afro and Mattia Moreni (b 1920). The group, which exhibited at the Venice Biennale of 1952, was coordinated by Lionello Venturi, who described its style as ‘abstract-concrete ...born of a tradition that began around 1910 and that includes Cubism, Expressionism and Abstraction’. Geometric or post-Cubist forms dominate these artists’ work; however, the naturalistic colour and atmospheric luminosity of such paintings as Vedova’s Cosmic Vision (1952; New York, MOMA) and Birolli’s Brambles and Paths (1953; Brescia, Cavellini priv. col.) typify this group’s leanings towards expressive abstraction. During the 1950s Birolli, Corpora and Morlotti became more involved with Informalism and Tachism, and Santomaso and Vedova were significantly inspired by Hans Hartung and Wols respectively. Of the eight, Afro was the most outstanding exponent of lyrical expressionism, largely achieved through his use of vibrant and transparent colour in works such as Underwater Fishing (1955; Pittsburgh, PA, Carnegie).

_____________


 



Renato Birolli
 (1905-1959)
Nudo



Antonio Corpora
(1909-2004)
Lagina sull'Argentario
 



Ennio Morlotti
(1910-1992)
Fiori

 




 


_____________


Independent Group.

British group of artists, architects and critics. It met as an informal discussion group at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, from 1952 to 1955. Its members, drawn from those of the ICA who were dissatisfied with the Institute’s policy towards modernism, included the art critic Lawrence Alloway (1926–90), the design historian Peter Reyner Banham (1922–88), the art historian Toni del Renzio (b 1915), the artists Nigel Henderson, Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi, William Turnbull and John McHale (1922–78), and the architects Alison and Peter Smithson, James Stirling and Colin St John Wilson.

_____________
 

 



 

_____________


Quadriga.

German group of painters founded in 1952 in Frankfurt am Main and active until 1954. The four members were Karl Otto Gotz, Otto Greis, Heinz Kreutz and Bernard Schultze. When they exhibited their most recent works under the label of neo-Expressionism at the Zimmergalerie Franck, Frankfurt am Main, in December 1952, the writer René Hinds (1912–72) coined the name Quadriga, alluding to a Roman triumphal chariot. Impressed by the spontaneity and form-shattering power of the paintings, Hinds compared the works to a team of four fiery racehorses in their victory parade. There was also the analogy of the four artists breaking through audaciously after nearly 20 years of isolation from the international avant-garde. With European and American movements such as Abstract Expressionism and Tachism in Paris and the work of the Cobra group sharing so many qualities, shortly after 1950 Art informel developed as a universal language. The importance of Quadriga was in the members’ roles as pioneers of Art informel in Germany. However, the fairly loose connections between the members led them to develop in different directions and resulted in the group’s dissolution.


_____________


 


Otto Greis

(German, 1913)

Tuareg-Serie



Bernard Schultze

(1915 - 2005)
Stunde des Pan

 




 

_____________


New Brutalism.

Term coined by Peter Smithson in 1953 with reference to the design by Smithson and Alison Smithson for a school (completed 1954) at Hunstanton, Norfolk. It was intended as a counter to such terms as New Empiricism.

_____________
 

 



 

_____________


New Empiricism.

Term coined in the 1950s by the editors of the Architectural Review to describe the compromise between traditional and modern domestic architecture developed in war-time Sweden for large-scale social housing.


_____________
 

 



 

_____________


Gruppe 53.

German group of painters founded in Dusseldorf in 1953 and active until 1959. In 1953 some young Düsseldorf artists banded together to form an association known as the Künstlergruppe Niederrhein, with a shared interest in art informel and the intention of mounting exhibitions, in opposition to the established artists’ association, the Rheinische Secession. From 1954 the group emerged as Gruppe 53, with joint exhibitions held primarily in buildings owned by the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, and every second year at the Städtische Kunsthalle in Düsseldorf. The members included Peter Bruning, Winfried Gaul (b 1928), Gerhard Hoehme, Horst Egon Kalinowski, Herbert Kaufman (b 1924), Peter Royen (b 1923), Rolf Sackenheim (b 1921) and Friedrich Wertmann (b 1927). Abstract artists from outside Dusseldorf, such as Karl Fred Dahmen (1917–81), Bernard Schultze and Emil Schumacher, were also invited to exhibit with them, as were other Düsseldorf artists representing various developing trends in painting. Thus Konrad Klapheck, who worked figuratively, and members of the Zero group, including Heinz Mack, Otto Piene and Gunther Uecker, exhibited with Gruppe 53. There was no common aesthetic programming policy, although representative works include Brüning’s Bild 2/63 (1963; Bonn, Städt. Kstmus.), Gaul’s Good-bye to Rembrandt (1956–7; Saarbrucken, Saarland Mus.) and Hoehme’s Black Spring (1956; priv. col.). Economic and organizational interests formed the basis of their joint action, along with the desire to establish abstract art. All those involved painted in an abstract way and rejected geometrically inspired ‘cold abstraction’. The group received considerable support from the collector, art historian and later gallery owner Jean-Pierre Wilhelm (1912–68). He made contacts with gallery owners, especially in Paris, and with artists from abroad. When the opportunities for exhibiting abstract work by young artists in Düsseldorf had improved as a result of Gruppe 53’s commitment, and when other commercial galleries opened in addition to Wilhelm’s Galerie 22, the reasons motivating the group disappeared, and it was consequently disbanded in 1959.

_____________
 

 



 

_____________


Painters Eleven.

Canadian group of painters. It was formed in November 1953 by 11 artists working in and around Toronto: Jack Bush, Oscar Cahén (1916–56), Hortense Gordon (1887–1961), Tom Hodgson (b 1924), Alexandra Luke (1901–67), Jock Macdonald, Ray Mead (b 1921), Kazuo Nakamura (b 1926), William Ronald, Harold Town and Walter Yarwood (b 1917). Seven of these artists had shown their work together in October 1953 in Abstracts at Home, an exhibition organized by Ronald at a Toronto department store, the Robert Simpson Company; when they agreed to combine forces with four others, they chose a name that reflected their number and also made ironic reference to the Group of Seven, the Ontario-based landscape painters whose influence in the province was still pervasive in the 1950s. The members of Painters Eleven, which disbanded in October 1960, differed widely in background, experience and ambition; they were united by their interest in contemporary international art and in their belief that their need to exhibit their work would be better achieved collectively than individually. They felt isolated from the art of their own time and frustrated by the control exercised over the limited exhibiting possibilities presented by such art societies as the Ontario Society of Artists and the Canadian Group of Painters.
 

_____________

 

 



 

_____________


Tachism

The term Tachism was adopted in 1954 by the French critic Charles Estienne to describe a way of painting characterized by taches, or stains of colour, created by the splashing or spraying paint onto the canvas. Georges Mathieu (b. 1921) chose to express himself in this spontaneous way and developed a technique of composing tangles of abstract marks in a rapid semi-calligraphic style. Mathieu carried out a number of his paintings in public with a sense of drama and panache that anticipated Performance Art. In 1959, in front of an audience at the Vienna meat market, he painted Hommage an Connetable de Bourbon on a large canvas in only 40 minutes. This instantaneous communication of a state of mind can also be seen in the random, chaotic drawings of the German artist Wols (nom de guerre of Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schultze, 1913-51) who arrived in Paris in 1932. Wols did not dedicate himself to Tachism until a few years before his death, turning to paintings of fibrous tangles mixed with patches and marks of colour. Jean Fautrier (1898-1964) could also be counted among the tachistes. Fautrier gave his works a tactile consistency by building uneven layers of tempera and glue, thickened with white, resulting in intensely dramatic impastoed surfaces. In his Otages (Hostages) series, this medium brilliantly evoked Fautrier's reaction to the massacre of prisoners of war. His pictures gave an impression of profundity and power.

_____________


 


Wols

(Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze)
 



 




 

_____________


Spatialisme.

Term coined in 1954 in a manifesto signed by the Belgian painters Jo Delahaut (1911-1992) and Pol Bury and the writers Jean Séaux and Karel Elno to describe the work of Belgian abstract artists who had been associated with ART ABSTRAIT. The concept of Spatialisme arose largely from Delahaut’s initiative and was expressive of his ideas, which were absorbed into another group, Formes, founded by him in 1956. The artists associated with the term never exhibited as a group. The manifesto, which defined Spatialisme as ‘a concerted construction of forms tending to give them a life and poetry of their own’, rejected both Tachism and Abstract Expressionism as ‘disguised returns to tradition’. Though claimed as entirely new, it was close in spirit to Constructivism, calling for an abolition of the barrier between major and minor arts and for the social and economic integration of the artist.


_____________


 


Jo Delahaut
(1911-1992)



L'adieu
1957



Surface 17
1961



Composition bleue
1961

 





 

_____________


Gutai
[Gutai Bijutsu Kyokai; Jap.: Concrete Art Association].

Japanese group of artists, active between 1954 and 1972. It was formed by 18 young avant-garde artists, led by Jiro Yoshihara, one of the founders of Japanese abstract painting. Following Yoshihara’s guidance in creating an anti-individualistic form of expression, the group started by holding an open-air exhibition at the Ashiyagawa riverside. The members began experimenting in performance art, for example breaking through single-leaf paper screens and creating other staged pieces such as San baso ultra-moderne by Kazuo Shiraga (b 1924). This consisted of archers firing at a theatrical set and was performed in Osaka in 1957. The group also practised kinetic art, for example in Work: Water by Sadamasa Motonaga, in which water was filtered through suspended fabrics at the Second Open-air Exhibition in Ashiya in 1956.


_____________


 



Jiro Yoshihara
 
(1905-1972) 
Untitled
1957



Kazuo Shiraga
(b 1924)
Tenrosei Byokansaku
1962

 




 

_____________


Kitchen Sink school.

English group of painters active in the 1950s. Its name was derived from an article of 1954 by the critic David Sylvester and is used to identify a brand of English realist painting whose main exponents were John Bratby (1928-1992), Derrick Greaves (b 1927), Edward Middleditch (1923-1987) and Jack Smith. These artists knew each other and exhibited together but did not share a common programme or ideology. Like the contemporary ‘angry young men’ of realist drama and literature, they rejected their label. Their work represents a distinctive but brief reaction against the élitism of abstraction and Neo-Romanticism in favour of figurative social realism, a reaction that found its most ardent voice in the writings of the Marxist critic John Berger (b 1926).


_____________


 


John Bratby
(1928-1992)



Still Life with Chip Frier
1954



The Toilet  
1955

 

 



Susan Ballam
1956



Three Self Portraits with a White Wall
1957

 



Baby in pram in garden
1956




 


Derrick Greaves

(b 1927)
 



Girl with Flower



Falling I




 


Edward Middleditch
(1923-1987)



Spanish garden



Winter

 




 

_____________


Colour field painting.

Term referring to the work of such Abstract Expressionists as Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still and to various subsequent American painters, including Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Frank Stella, Jules Olitski and Helen Frankenthaler . The popularity of the concept stemmed largely from Clement Greenberg’s formalist art criticism, especially his essay ‘American-type Painting’, written in 1955 for Partisan Review, which implied that Still, Newman and Rothko had consummated a tendency in modernist painting to apply colour in large areas or ‘fields’. This notion became increasingly widespread and doctrinaire in later interpretations of ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM, until the movement was effectively divided into ‘gesturalist’ and ‘colour field’ styles despite the narrow and somewhat misleading overtones of each category.


_____________
 

 



 

_____________


Les
Plasticiens

Canadian group of artists based in Montreal, active from 1955 to 1959. They announced themselves with the publication of a manifesto on 10 February 1955 on the occasion of an exhibition at L’Echourie, a coffee bar in Montreal. The four signatories, who had begun exhibiting together in 1954, were Louis Belzile (b 1929), Jean-Paul Jérome (b 1928), Fernand Toupin (b 1930) and Jauran (pseudonym of Rodolphe de Repentigny, 1926–59); the text was written by Jauran, who was influential as an art critic for La Presse. The manifesto proclaimed the need for a return to order in art in reaction to the prevalence of the subjective tendencies of Abstract Expressionism; the group’s name was chosen in homage to the Neo-Plasticism of Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian.


_____________
 

 



 




_____________


Semantic art.

Form of painting associated primarily with the Italian artist Luciano Lattanzi and the German Werner Schreib. The term was launched in 1957 in a manifesto written by Lattanzi for his exhibition at the New Vision Centre Gallery in London and was coined to draw a parallel between their art and the forms of language. The manifesto enumerated ‘eight propositions’ and claimed that semantic art marked the decline of individualism in art and abolished the distinction between animate and inanimate objects. Prompted by ACTION PAINTING and indirectly by Surrealism, it was based on AUTOMATISM. The artist was required to execute drawings or paintings without conscious intervention, so tapping the unconscious. The resulting work would then comprise largely ‘natural signs’, which could be contemplated and deciphered by the artist. As products of an intelligible, rational universe, these natural signs are comprehensible, although some might be so complex as to defy adequate interpretation. Unlike action painting, which used spontaneous means to unleash the individual psyche, semantic art was designed to probe the universal structure common to all objects. As in a language, the works are composed of signs, the meanings of which depend on their context and arrangement. These plastic signs are, however, more ‘vital’ than their linguistic counterparts. The typical style of semantic art in drawing and painting is a densely worked pattern of such abstract shapes as circles, lines, spirals and organic forms, for example Semantic Painting and Semantic Drawing , both by Lattanzi. Schreib obeyed the same aesthetic but often impressed abstract designs on to thick paste using a stamp, producing such works as Arithmetic Organization

_____________



 



Luciano Lattanzi
(1925-1999)
Untitled



Werner Schreib
(1925-1969)
Das Bild mit dem Kreuz

 





 

_____________


Neo-Dada

At the end of the 1950s, the American art scene turned its attentions away from the interior world of the artist, valued so highly by the exponents of Action Painting, and began to concentrate on the nature of objects. This change of direction does not mean that the medium of painting was ignored, however. In the work of Jasper Johns, it played an essential role; only the intentions were different. There was renewed interest in the Dada concept of the "ready-made", in the basic value of objects or in their mass-produced counterparts. Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925) combined the gesture implicit in Action Painting with fragments of everyday life, used objects, stuffed animals - in short, anything that reflected the ways of contemporary society. Jasper Johns (b. 1930), on the other hand, used painting to reproduce banal, commonplace objects. Exemplary of this is the series of Flags (1958). in which the pictures almost become objects themselves, though they never totally renounce their own intrinsic characteristics. In this mediation between a traditional concept of painting and the poetry of objects, Neo-Dada represents a moment in the passing from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art.

Artists linked with the term include Jasper Johns, Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, and Jim Dine. The movement also helped inspire Pop Art and the art group Fluxus.


_____________

 

 



 

_____________


Hard-edge painting.

Term applied to abstract paintings composed of simple geometric or organic forms executed in broad, flat colours and delineated by precise, sharp edges. The term was coined by the Californian art critic Jules Langsner in 1958 and intended by him merely as an alternative to the term ‘geometric abstraction’. Generally, however, it is used in a more specific sense: whereas geometric abstraction can be used to describe works with large numbers of separate, possibly modelled, elements creating a spatial effect, hard-edge painting refers only to works comprised of a small number of large, flat forms, generally avoiding the use of pictorial depth. It is in relation to this type of painting, particularly as produced by artists such as Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Noland, Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt from the mid-1950s to the end of the 1960s, that the term acquired general currency. Characteristic of this style are Newman’s The Gate (1954; Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus.) and Kelly’s White Black (1961; Chicago, IL, A. Inst.)


_____________
 

 



 

_____________


Spur
[Ger.: ‘track’].

German group of painters and sculptors founded in Munich in 1958 and active until 1966. The group’s foundation followed a joint exhibition held in autumn 1957 in the Pavillon im Alten Botanischen Garten in Munich by the painters Heimrad Prem (1934–79), Helmut Sturm (b 1932), Hans-Peter Zimmer (b 1936) and the sculptor Lothar Fischer (b 1933). They devised the group’s name in January 1958 when thinking about the tracks of their own footprints in the snow. Their shared goals related to their criticism of Art informel, which they regarded as devoid of content and too private. With their aspirations towards collaborative working and inclination towards the figural as conveyed by the traces left by gestures, Spur advocated art that asked itself social questions. Conflicts between people as well as areas of social taboo were represented and chosen as themes in an expressive and sensual way. For their models, Spur used the dynamic portrayals of human suffering in Late Gothic and Baroque paintings of the Passion and the Expressionism of the Blaue Reiter and Die Brucke. In the 21 points of their first manifesto of November 1958 they rejected aestheticism, technique as an end in itself and abstraction in art. The members of Spur were encouraged and helped by Asger Jorn, who in 1959 introduced them to the Galerie Van de Loo in Munich, which thereafter exhibited and supported the group, as did the artist and art critic Hans Platschek. In 1959 Spur was accepted by the International Situationists in Paris, and in 1961 the group wrote their Januar-Manifest. The Bavarian Ministry of Culture refused to allow an exhibition by them in the Haus der Kunst in Munich. Six issues of their magazine Spur were impounded. In February 1962 they were expelled by the International Situationists, and in the same year there were two court hearings resulting in prison sentences for supposed blasphemy. In 1965 they painted collaborative gouaches, and started to cooperate with the Wir group; in spring 1966 the two groups were amalgamated to form the Geflecht group. However, Prem and Fischer withdrew. In 1967 the Geflecht group (H. M. Bachmayer, R. Heller, F. Köhler, H. Naujoks, H. Rieger, Sturm and Zimmer) exhibited Anti-objects at the Kunstverein, Freiburg im Breisgau, and participated in political Happenings. Differences of opinion led to the dissolution of the Geflecht group that same year.


_____________


 

 


Helmut Sturm
(b 1932)
Komposition



Hans Peter Zimmer
(1936-1992)
Spuritaner

 





 

_____________


Zero.

International group of artists founded in Dusseldorf and active from 1958 until 1966. Membership of this informal association varied, but the core of the group was made by Heinz Mack, Otto Piene and Gunther Uecker. The range of art produced by Zero members ran from monochrome painting to Nouveau Réalisme, and to object art via kinetic art and light art. The common element was found in young artists who wanted to overcome the subjective expression inherent in Tachism and Art informel, which was still strongly characterized by post-war intellectual movements such as Existentialism. By challenging the artistic ideas of the 1920s again (e.g. Suprematism and Constructivism), it was hoped to find a way of revitalizing and spiritualizing ‘concrete’ means of expression that did not reproduce the old world but rather opened up new forms of perception and levels of consciousness.
 

_____________



 


Heinz Mack

(German,
born in 1931) 



Dynamische Struktur



Untitled



Licht Zelt




 


Gunther Uecker
(German Sculptor, born in 1930)



White Mill



Lichtscheibe
1961



Planetarische Vision II

 




 

_____________


Arte generativo.

Style of Argentine painting named in 1959 by EDUARDO MACENTYRE and MIGUEL ANGEL VIDAL to describe their work, with its power to generate optical sequences by circular, vertical and horizontal displacement, and based on their studies of Georges Vantongerloo. Developing the tradition of geometric abstraction that had emerged in Argentina in the 1940s with groups such as Arte Concreto Invención, Movimiento Madí and Perceptismo, the aim of these artists was to extol the beauty and perfection of geometry through line and colour. They and the collector Ignacio Pirovano (1919–80), who acted as their theorist, were soon joined by the engineer and painter Baudes Gorlero (1912–59), who as well as creating his own work also analysed its development mathematically. All three artists were awarded prizes in 1959 in the Argentine competition Plástica con plásticos by a jury that consisted of the French critic Michel Ragon, the American museum director Thomas Messer (b 1920), the French painter Germaine Derbecq (1899–1973) and the Argentine critic Aldo Pellegrini (1903–75), shortly after which Gorlero died. MacEntyre and Vidal produced the Arte generativo manifesto in 1960, not as a theoretical statement but as a ‘clarification of ideas’. They distinguished the adjective ‘generative’ (‘able to produce or engender’) from the verb ‘to engender’ (‘to procreate, to propagate the same species, to cause, occasion, form’) and from the noun ‘generatrix’ (‘a point, line or surface whose motion generates a line, surface or solid’). After exploring these ideas more fully they suggested that shapes ‘produce power through the sensation of breaking free from and wishing to penetrate the basic plane and energy from the displacements and vibrations that they produce’. Both MacEntyre and Vidal relied on an analytical process, organizing basic units (curved lines for MacEntyre, straight lines in Vidal’s case) in accordance with constant laws and subjecting them to inventive variations characterized by an impeccable technique, splendid colour and surprising power.


_____________


 


Eduardo MacEntyre
 (1873 - 1932)



Pintura generativa



Pintura generativa



Sobre gris variation de 1 tema

 


 

_____________


Gruppo T.

Italian group of artists. It was founded in Milan in 1959 and active until 1962. The founders were Giovanni Anceschi (b 1939), Davide Boriani (b 1936), Gianni Colombo (1937-1992) and Gabriele de Vecchi (b 1938). These artists, who were primarily interested in kinetic art, first exhibited as a group in 1960 in the Galleria Pater in Milan, where they held six exhibitions entitled Miriorama 1–6, none lasting more than a few days. In the last of these shows the four founder-members were joined by Grazia Varisco (b 1937). Gruppo T’s works frequently invited the participation of the exhibition visitor: for example, Boriani’s Magnetic Surfaces contained patterns of iron dust that changed as the objects were handled. By contrast the exhibits of a show held at the Galleria Danese in December 1960 were powered by electric motors (e.g. Rotoplastik by Colombo). The group cooperated with other artists with similar aims, including Gruppo N, at whose gallery, Studio N, in Padua they exhibited in 1962. They also were supported by Lucio Fontana, who presented an exhibition of their work at the Galleria La Salita in Rome in 1961. Gruppo T’s last exhibition was at the Galleria del Cavallino in 1962.


_____________


 


Gianni Colombo

(1937-1992)



Untitled



Installazione

 


 

_____________


Antipodean group.

Australian group of artists formed in Melbourne in February 1959 and active until January 1960. The founder-members were the art historian Bernard Smith (b 1916), who was elected chairman, and the painters Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, David Boyd (b 1924), John Brack, John Perceval and Clifton Pugh. They were joined subsequently by the Sydney-based painter Bob Dickerson (b 1924). Smith chose the name of the group and compiled the Antipodean Manifesto, the appearance of which coincided with the inaugural exhibition, The Antipodeans, held in the Victorian Artists’ Society rooms in Melbourne in August 1959. The group’s main concern was to promote figurative painting at a time when non-figurative painting and sculpture were becoming established as the predominant trend in Australia, as in the USA and Europe. To gain a more prestigious venue to show their work, the group asked Smith to enlist the support of Kenneth Clark, who responded by suggesting the Whitechapel Gallery in London. The Gallery’s director, Bryan Robertson (b 1925), received British Council support and made a selection for an exhibition entitled Recent Australian Paintings (1961), which featured the work of the group alongside that of Jon Molvig, Albert Tucker, Sidney Nolan, Fred Williams and others. Although the members of the group had experienced much critical opposition, they felt vindicated by their inclusion in this exhibition, which established that contemporary Australian painting had a well-founded and powerful national identity.

_____________
 

 



 

_____________


Gruppo N.

Italian group of artists. It was formed in Padua in 1959. It included Alberto Biasi (b 1937), Ennio Chiggio (b 1937), Giovanni Antonio Costa (b 1935), Edoardo N. Landi (b 1937) and Manfredo Massironi (b 1937). The group gained notoriety in 1959 when Massironi competed unsuccessfully for the Premio San Fedele, for which he submitted a piece of cardboard that he had selected because of the interesting optical qualities of its surface. During the 1960s Gruppo N played an important part in the development of Op art in Italy. The work of Biasi, for example, included geometric abstract reliefs with striking optical effects, such as the Optical-dynamic Relief (Drops) (painted iron and card, 1962; Padua, priv. col.); this attempted to create an effect analogous to the patterns caused by drops of water falling on a liquid surface. The group’s gallery, Studio N, which opened in Padua in November 1960, rapidly became an important centre for experimental art, music and poetry. The group had its own room at the Venice Biennale of 1964 and also participated in various exhibitions of Arte programmata in Italy.


_____________


 


Alberto Biasi
(b 1937)



Untitled



Untitled



Untitled



Untitled



Untitled



Untitled



Light prisms
1962

 






 



Ennio Chiggio
(b 1937)

Untitled



Manfredo Massironi
(b 1937)

Untitled

 




 

_____________


Neo-Dadaism Organizers.

Group of Japanese artists who showed at the Yomiuri Independent exhibitions of the late 1950s and developed ‘anti-art’ activities modelled on those of the DADA movement. There were frequent dissolutions and reformings, but the group that formed in March 1960 included Masunobu Yoshimura (b 1932), Genpei Akasegawa (b 1937), Shusaku Arakawa, Sho Kazakura, Ushio Shinohara (b 1933) and Soroku Toyoshima (and later Shintaro Tanaka (b 1940) and Shin Kinoshita); with the exception of Tetsumi Kudo and Tomio Miki, who associated with the group but never joined, it seemed then to comprise all the major ‘anti-art’ artists in Japan.


_____________


 



Genpei Akasegawa
(b 1937)
Go, go, Thomason!

 




 

_____________


Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel
[GRAV]

Group of artists active in Paris from 1960 to 1968. Eleven artists signed the original manifesto, but only six of them formed the core of the group: Horacio García Rossi (b 1929), Francisco Sobrino, François Morellet, Julio Le Parc, Joel Stein (b 1926) and Jean-Pierre Vasarely, known as Yvaral (b 1934). The group took its name from the Centre de Recherche d’Art Visuel, founded in Paris in July 1960. Following the belief of Victor Vasarely (father of Yvaral) that the concept of the artist as a solitary genius was outdated, the artists’ main aim was to merge the individual identities of the members into a collective activity that would be more than the sum of its parts. They also believed that ‘workers collaborating with the aid of scientific and technical disciplines [would] be the only true creators of the future’. The group exhibited in Europe within the framework of the NOUVELLE TENDANCE movement, and it successfully developed the logic of group activity through the strategy of anonymity and the holding of collective events called Labyrinths. From the outset, members of GRAV adopted the principle of submitting individual work to the consideration of the group as a whole, which would determine its relevance to the overall programme. In 1961 they felt confident enough to assert that ‘plastic reality’ was inherent in ‘the constant relationship between the plastic object and the human eye’. This conviction led them to experiment with a wide spectrum of kinetic and optical effects, employing various types of artificial light and mechanical movement as well as optical or ‘virtual’ movement. In Assez de mystifications!, the text that they published on the occasion of the Paris Biennale in 1961, they sought to forge a connection between their efforts to engage the ‘human eye’ and their forthright denunciation of the élitism of traditional art, which appealed to ‘the cultivated eye...the intellectual eye’.


_____________

 


Francisco Sobrino

(Spanish, 1932)
 



Untitled
1960


Pulsation H
1965



Espace indelini
1968

 


 

_____________


Nul
[Dut.: ‘Zero’].

Group of Dutch artists founded at the end of 1960 by Armando, Jan Henderikse (b 1937), Henk Peeters (b 1925) and Jan Schoonhoven as a continuation of the Informele Groep to which the same artists had belonged with Kees van Bohemen (1928–85). It was named after its German counterpart, the ZERO group, whose members Peeters met in 1960 and with whom Nul exhibited frequently. The exhibition Monochrome Malerei (1960; Leverkusen, Schloss Morsbroich) played a part in the birth of Nul. The group was a reaction against the expressionism of the 1950s. The artists turned against the expression of emotion through painterly means. In place came an attempt to represent space by means of uniform monochrome fields of colour, as seen in the work of Yves Klein, whom Peeters had met in 1960, and to manifest rational arrangement by composing objects and materials in series. A work of art was not allowed to be an illusionistic representation of reality but should be a reality itself. This is evident from the actual works: Armando’s nuts and bolts welded on to plates, inspired by the welding techniques in shipbuilding; the changing light and shadow play in the white reliefs of Jan Schoonhoven; the series of objets trouvés by Henderikse; the smoke-paintings of rain, snow and fog by Peeters.


_____________


 


Jan Henderikse

(b 1937)



Kurkenrelief
1960



Centeurelief
1966



PP 3 C
1965

 




 

_____________


Situation.

Title of an exhibition of British abstract painting held in 1960 at the Royal Society of British Artists Galleries, London. It resulted from discussions between several artists grouped around critic and exhibition organizer Lawrence Alloway (1926–90) about staging their own display of American-influenced, large-scale abstract paintings, which established commercial art galleries had been unwilling to handle. William Turnbull brought other artists into this circle through his association with the Central School of Art. The 18 artists finally exhibited from the catalogued list of 20 included Turnbull and Gillian Ayres, Bernard Cohen, Harold Cohen (b 1928), Robyn Denny (b 1930), John Hoyland and Bob Law; Richard Smith was also due to participate, but his paintings did not arrive from the USA in time. Characteristic of the works shown, and one of the most clearly influenced by the large scale and flat areas of colour in American COLOUR FIELD PAINTING, is Bernard Cohen’s Painting 96 (1960; Liverpool, Walker A.G.).


_____________


 


Bernard Cohen

(born 1933)



Matter of Identity I
1963



Floris
1964



In That Moment
1965

 

Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.