In the Studio

Steven Alexander, Tracer #3, 2014, 36 x 32 inches, acrylic on canvas


Notes on Abstraction

There is a common misconception about abstraction that surfaced in a recent statement by a prominent practitioner of figure compositions:
"Completely abstract paintings, in which there is no figure, landscape, still life or other subject, are about composition itself. We see the paint as paint. We see the color and texture and value and the way paint was applied, the gestural touch of the painter's hand."

An abstract painting is not a design project. Accomplished abstraction is NEVER just "about composition itself". It participates in a long and diverse legacy of ontological investigation and proposition. It embodies, through specific resonances of color, configuration and physicality, a sense of place -- psychological, physical, existential. It proposes the potential for meaning through the agency of visual metaphor and presence. It reflects a cosmology that is not anthropocentric or dogmatic, but concerned with open and ineffable experience, and built upon ambiguity, speculation, and uncertainty.

A very abbreviated tour of abstraction through time: 

Ron Gorchov

Terry Winters

Brice Marden

Richard Long

Blinky Palermo

Forrest Bess

Joan Snyder

Louise Fishman

Richard Tuttle

Walter De Maria

Cy Twombly

Jasper Johns

Robert Rauschenberg

Joan Mitchell

Agnes Martin

Mark Rothko

Barnett Newman

Piet Mondrian

Kazimir Malevich

Paul Klee

Wassily Kandinsky

Tantric Painting, India, 20th century

Aboriginal Australia, 20th century

Weaving, Navajo, 19th century

Textile, Ghana, 19th century 

Tiebele, West Africa

New Mexico, circa 1200

Textile, Peru, circa 1200

Greek, 8th century BC

Minoan, 1800 BC


Cueva del Castillo, Spain, circa 40,000 BC

Images from the Internet


In the Studio

Steven Alexander, Is and Was #22, 2014, 60 x 50 inches, acrylic on canvas


JOAN MITCHELL at Cheim & Read

Joan Mitchell, Tilleul (Linden Tree), 1977, 37 x 29 inches, oil on canvas

Two wonderful exhibitions in Chelsea feature artists of the same generation but somewhat different worlds: Joan Mitchell: Trees at Cheim & Read (through August 29, 2014), and Robert De Niro Sr, Paintings and Drawings, 1948-1989 at DC Moore (through July 31, 2014). Both artists build paintings of exquisite beauty out of the rawest materiality of the medium and the language. Both retained throughout their lives an essential connection to the impulses and structures of observed reality. Both sustained their dogged individualism and dedication in the face of considerable marginalization. Without exception, their canvases breathe with the deepest exuberance and love.

Joan Mitchell, Trees, 1990-91, 94 x 157 inches, oil on canvas

Joan Mitchell, First Cypress, 1964, 88 x 78 inches, oil on canvas

Joan Mitchell, Cypresses, 1975, 77 x 102 inches, oil on canvas

Joan Mitchell, Red Tree, 1976, 103 x 63 inches, oil on canvas

Joan Mitchell, Trees, 1990-91, 87 x 157 inches, oil on canvas

Robert De Niro Sr, Still Life w/ Vase of Flowers, Lemons, Chair, Guitar, 1989, 34 x 40 inches, oil on linen

Robert De Niro Sr, St. Juste-en-Chavelet, 1963, 28 x 23 inches, oil on linen

Robert De Niro Sr, Nude with Green Pants, 1970, 36 x 28 inches, oil on linen

Robert De Niro Sr, Untitled Still Life with Chair, 1960, 54 x 38 inches, oil on linen

Robert De Niro Sr, Birdcage, 2 Vases and Flowers, 1981, 40 x 30 inches, oil on linen


In the Studio

Steven Alexander Studio, May 19, 2014


GONÇALO IVO at Laura Marsiaj in Rio

Gonçalo Ivo at Galeria Laura Masiaj
Rio de Janeiro
June 4 - July 9, 2014

CONGRATULATIONS Gonçalo!! - I wish I could be there.


SOUTINE at Paul Kasmin

When was the last time you saw a Soutine painting...in Chelsea? When was the last time you saw 16 Soutine paintings anywhere outside of Paris? Every one is a knockout. Not to be missed by any painter who can get there -- Chaim Soutine: Life in Death at Paul Kasmin through June 14, 2014.