Saturday, October 9, 2010

Toward a Romantic Minimalism

Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor exact truth, but in the way of feeling. - Baudelaire

Sutra, oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches, © 2010 Diane McGregor

As I've developed my work over the past couple of years, going from very smoothly blended and luminous imagery to more textured, painterly surfaces and a focus on the underlying structure of the grid, I have sought to clarify exactly what kind of "ism" my work might fall into. My current paintings are minimalist in concept (the grid, repetition, non-objective), yet quite painterly and romantic in execution. Romanticism in visual art emphasized the new prominence of the brushstroke and impasto, the artist's free handling of paint, expressiveness of mood and color, intuition and emotion. Lyrical or painterly abstraction was introduced as a response to minimal art and the rigorous formalism of Judd -- the artist's touch is always visible in this type of painting. In 1967, The Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia curated a show entitled, "A Romantic Minimalism," which included work by Brice Marden, Carl Andre, and Ralph Humphrey. These decidedly "minimalist" artists never abandoned the surface quality of the object. Brice Marden discusses this in a wonderful interview in Tate Etc (see, especially Marden's discussion of Rothko's work). Minimalism was a reaction against the painterly focus of Abstract Expressionism, but some of the "minimalist" artists working in the 60s and 70s never abandoned the presence of the artist's touch.

So I have been thinking of my work in terms of Romantic Minimalism - I use the grid, repetition, a limited palette, and no specific references to nature. However, the painting seduces with it's complex woven textures and mysterious layers of color, and I am thoroughly engaged by the gesture and quality of the individual brushstroke and its emotive and contemplative content.


bicocacolors said...

Simply wonderful!
Hugs from Spain

katepmiller said...

This is a very thought provoking blog that accompanies a very thought provoking and emotionally moving painting. Romantic? absolutely, Minimalist, yes, I love it. Romantic minimilism is the perfect description. And so academic.

sukipoet said...

would love to see yr paintings in person. Glad to know you are still working hard.

Kelly M. said...

romantic minimalism -- such a strong juxtaposition of sensibilities -- but your works speak to it so well.

Diane McGregor said...

Thank you all so much for your comments!