Saturday 14 May 2011

Frank Lobdell - part 1

Frank Lobdell by David Tomb 2002
The first of two posts on Abstract Expressionist painter Frank Lobdell covers the first half of his career, when his work was more abstracted. The second post will cover his more structured and formalised work.
Frank Lobdell was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1921 and studied with Cameron Booth at the St Paul School of Fine Arts. From 1942 until 1946 Lobdell saw active service in Europe during World War II. He then attended the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) from 1947-50, where he studied with Richard Diebenkorn, Clyfford Still and Mark Rothko. Lobdell returned to teach at CSFA in 1957, then joined the Stanford University faculty in 1966, retiring after 25 years.

Although his work falls into the genre of abstraction, Lobdell's interest in anthropomorphic shapes, pre-Christian iconography, fertility symbols, and his references to textile designs and primitive art are persistent throughout his works. In this sense, his painting shares a strong affinity with certain aspects of surrealism, specifically as practiced by Picasso, Miró, and Klee - one of the most pivotal moments in Lobdell's artistic development occurred when he saw Guernica at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1940.

Lobdell's early paintings from the late forties and fifties are dark and powerful abstractions. After World War II Lobdell struggled with the effect of war on the psyche. These paintings, in the words of Herschel Chipp, represent the "agony of a human organism confronted with an environment that offers little that is certain—no horizon, no gravity, no substance." Many of the works contain specific iconographic symbols and mark the beginning of a carefully cultivated personal symbology that Lobdell would return to throughout his career.

In the sixties and seventies, Lobdell began to move away from gestural abstraction and started to explore the possibilities inherent in representation with the introduction of more literal figures. In the early seventies he completed a group of paintings entitled the Dance series. These nine paintings, plus several others represent Lobdell's vehement opposition to the Vietnam War, as well as the horrors of the proceeding thirty years, but also mark the end of his early, more literal work and the beginning of an ongoing exploration of space and colour. Over the last couple of decades, Lobdell has continued to pare down his imagery, and colour has taken on a primary importance.

Frank Lobdell is a recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Painting from the American Academy and Institute of Arts & Letters. He has been the subject of museum retrospectives at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco's Legion of Honor and the Portland Art Museum, Oregon. His work is included in the collections of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; de Young Museum, San Francisco; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA; Oakland Museum of California; San Jose Museum of Art; and the Portland Art Museum, Oregon. In 2003, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Hudson Hills Press published Frank Lobdell: The Art of Making and Meaning, a 400–page monograph charting Lobdell's work and career.

1948 1 August 1948

1948 17 February 1948

1949 1 January 1949

1949 27 October 1949

1954 July 1954

1958 December

1962 3 October 1962

1962 15 April 1962

1962 Black Edge II

1962 Summer

1962 Summer

1963 Dark Presence III, Yellow

1967 Summer (In Memory of James Budd Dixon)

1969 Dance I

1970 Dance IV

1970 Dance VII

1971 Dance VIII

1971 Untitled

1972 Untitled Drawing

1972 Untitled Drawing VIII

Monday 9 May 2011

Robert Ryman

I really like Robert Ryman's paintings. There is a deceptively simple graphic quality to his work - he was creating incredibly contemporary looking work in the 1950s -60s; and his use of white is inspired.

Robert Ryman was born in 1930 in Nashville. In 1948 he enrolled at Tennessee Polytechnic Institute but transferred the next year to George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, where he studied music. In 1950 Ryman enlisted in the United States army reserve corps and was assigned to an army reserve band during the Korean War. In 1952 he moved to New York and studied with jazz pianist Lennie Tristano. Taking on odd jobs to support himself, Ryman took a position as a guard at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in June 1953. During that year, the artist made his first paintings.
In 1955 Ryman began what he considers his earliest professional work, a largely monochrome painting known as Orange Painting.

1955-59 Untitled (Orange Painting)

His work was first exhibited in a staff show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1958, and later that year he was included in a group show at the Brata Gallery, New York. In the late 1950s Ryman became friends with artists Dan Flavin and Michael Venezia, both of whom were also working at the Museum of Modern Art.

In 1961 he also began to paint on a full-time basis. During the early 1960s, Ryman spent a great deal of time with other artists whose studios were on the Bowery, including Tom Doyle, Eva Hesse, Sol LeWitt, and Sylvia and Robert Mangold. At this time, Ryman began executing his first paintings on metal (vinyl polymer on aluminium), a support he would use many times again. In 1966 Ryman’s work was included in Systemic Painting at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, along with twenty-eight other artists, including Ellsworth Kelly, Jackson Pollock, and Frank Stella. The artist’s first solo exhibition took place at the Paul Bianchini Gallery, New York, in 1967. Two years later, Ryman was included in When Attitudes Become Form, a seminal exhibition of works by Minimalist and Conceptual artists organized by the Kunsthalle Bern. Throughout his career, Ryman has isolated the most basic components of painting and experimented with their variations.

In 1972 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum exhibited thirty-eight of Ryman’s works from 1965 to 1972, in the artist’s first solo exhibition in a New York museum. That summer, Ryman was included in Documenta 5 in Kassel. In 1973 the artist was awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the next year he had a retrospective exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Additional retrospective exhibitions were organized by the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London in 1977 and by InK, Halle für Internationale Neue Kunst, Zurich, in 1980, the latter of which travelled throughout Europe. A permanent exhibition of Ryman’s work was installed at the Hallen für Neue Kunst in Schaffhausen in 1983. In 1991 his works from 1958 to 1981 were exhibited at Espace d’Art Contemporain, Paris. In 1993 and 1994 an exhibition of Ryman’s work travelled to the Tate Gallery, London; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. In 1994 Ryman was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, and assumed the role of the organization’s Vice President in 2003. He lives in New York.

1958 To Gertrude Mellon

1958 Untitled

1958 Untitled

1959 Untitled

1959 Untitled

1961 Study

1961 Untitled

1961 Wedding Picture

1962 Untitled

1962 Untitled

1964 Untitled

1965 Untitled

1965 Untitled

1968 Classico 5

1976 Untitled

2002 Period


2003 Untitled

2004 Series #13 (White)

2004 Series #33 (White)