New American Paintings/Blog


Collecting Critically: A Q&A with Henry L. Thaggert by New American Paintings

Andy Warhol’s relationship to abstraction is charged. Despite a latecareer painterlyimpulse — which included the Shadows series currently exhibiting at the Hirshhorn — his pictorial language based on representation fundamentally questioned the narrative of post-war painting as defined by Clement Greenberg. And the implications of Pop Art’s emergence over Abstract Expressionism were significant, not least for black artists as changes in collecting preferences opened new doors for art about the African American experience. This was the premise of a talk by art collector Henry Thaggert at the Philips Collection in Washington D.C. a few years back. It’s a perspective that Kara Walker seems to echo, at least indirectly, in a talk on Andy Warhol scheduled for next week at the Hirshhorn. I recently caught up with Thaggert to talk further about Warhol, get his thoughts on collecting art, and about his involvement in the local art scene. – Matthew Smith, D.C. Contributor


Andy Warhol | Shadows, 1978-79. Dia Art Foundation. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Photo: Cathy Carver.

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Size Matters: Chris Martin Paints Big at the Corcoran by openstudiospress
August 3, 2011, 10:24 am
Filed under: Art World, DC | Tags: , , ,

Chris Martin. ABOVE: Here Comes the Sun…, 2004–2007. Oil on canvas, 143 x 129 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. Photo: Jason Mandella. BOTTOM: Staring into the Sun… (4711), 2003. Oil on canvas, three parts, 143 x 129 inches each. Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.

It’s easy to see Chris Martin’s interest in outsider art. In fact, it’s often written directly onto his work. A close inspection of the collaged paintings in his monumental installation in the Corcoran Gallery’s atrium yields, among other things, a newspaper clipping noting the death of Purvis Young, arguably the quintessential outsider artist. Other works by Martin, many of them installed in the Corcoran’s rotunda, have textual references to artists who were decidedly insiders but whose works alluded to an outsider’s sensibility  artists like Paul Thek and Alfred Jensen. This second category  the insider with an outsider’s sensibility  is particularly relevant to Chris Martin’s work in Painting Big, on view at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. through October 23.

Matthew Smith, DC Contributor

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Well Hung: A Q&A with Sam Gilliam by openstudiospress

Installation view, Sam Gilliam, Close to Trees, 2011 | Acrylic, polypropylene, nylon, and a mirror, site-specific installation. Courtesy the American University Museum and Marsha Mateyka Gallery, Washington, DC.

Sam Gilliam’s most celebrated accomplishment — the suspended painting — made its debut at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in September 1969. While other artists like Richard Tuttle and William T. Wiley were also experimenting with the unstreched canvas during the same period, Gilliam’s sculptural approach was revolutionary in that it repositioned the viewer’s relationship with the painting to include the object as well as the space around it, blurring the boundary between painting, sculpture, and architecture for the first time. Hanging from ceilings and walls but also from freestanding objects like sawhorses, Gilliam’s “drapes” left the wall behind to create physical environments that redefined the conceptual and aesthetic boundaries of abstract painting.  —Matthew Smith, DC contributor

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The Washington Color School by openstudiospress

ABOVE: Installation view of Fold Twelve by Thomas Downing. BELOW: Gene Davis,  Junkie’s Curtain, 1967, acrylic on canvas, 115 x 225 inches, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Images: Matthew Smith.

The Color Field painters of the the Washington Color School were mostly linked by curators and critics rather than by social ties. Yet despite their loose personal connections they came to form a cohesive art movement that positioned Washington, DC at the epicenter of abstraction innovation in the 1960s. Artists like Morris Louis, Thomas Downing, and Gene Davis, among others, pioneered or expanded upon a variety of techniques that furthered the boundaries that defined painting at the time. Often characterized by their use of oversized canvases and hard-edged swaths of solid, bold colors, Washington Color School artists sought to distance themselves from the emotional baggage of their abstract expressionist roots, instead presenting color in its purest form as the ultimate medium of aesthetic expression.

The minimalist renderings of the Washington Color School are currently on display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC in the exhibition Washington Color and Light, on view through March 6.  —Matthew Smith, DC contributor

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