The Week in Abstract Art – Person to Person
Aug 10, 2016
Some people say art is meaningless. Others insist it is the storehouse of all meaning. We find the debate moot. We are not interested in what one painting, or even all the paintings mean. We are just grateful for what art has done. What has art done, you ask? Art has showed us our best selves. Every artwork represents a moment when a human, or group of humans, suspended their animal nature long enough to create something. This is laudable, to say the least. François Pinault would no doubt agree. Pinault owns the art auction house Christies. He is currently self-funding the transformation of Paris’ Commodities Exchange building into a museum to house his personal art collection. This week he announced that he was speeding up the project in order to combat the recent violence plaguing the world, quoting the 20th Century French art theorist André Malraux, who asserted, “Art is the shortest path from man to man.” In that spirit, this week we would like to highlight four current or upcoming abstract art exhibitions showcasing art and artists that in some confront our connections to each other and to our higher selves.
Mark Bradford: Receive Calls on Your Cell Phone From Jail, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
On view through 21 August 2016
Urban detritus is often the medium of choice for Los Angeles-based artist Mark Bradford. For this exhibition, Bradford presents 38 paintings collaged from fragments of found posters explaining the difficulties prisoners have when trying to call someone on a cell phone, something which is difficult since many cell phone carriers restrict collect calls.
Alma Thomas, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York
On view through 30 October 2016
Alma Thomas became the first black woman to have a solo show at the Whitney at age 80. That happened in 1972, only 12 years after Thomas had dedicated herself to full-time painting. Prior to that, Thomas spent 36 years teaching junior high school, helping connect with kids in ways that taught them to appreciate art. This comprehensive exhibition of Thomas’ paintings offers a chance to appreciate her immense, and often under-appreciated contribution to 20th Century abstract art.
Alma Thomas - Autumn Leaves Fluttering in the Breeze, 1973
Gabriel de la Mora: Sound Inscriptions on Fabric, The Drawing Center, New York
On view through 2 September 2016
For this exhibition, Gabriel de la Mora framed 55 pairs of found stereo speaker screens. Over years, or even decades, the screens adopted geometric patterns caused by the sound waves passing through them. This contemporary take on the readymade connects our eyes and ears, and our present with a strange and subtle reminder of the past.
Gabriel de la Mora - Fragil
John Blackburn: Material Nature, Osborne Samuel Gallery, London
On view from 8 September through 1 October 2016
In the 1960s, while still in his 30s, John Blackburn was on the verge of fame. But just as his art career was taking off, his 10-year old daughter became ill and needed of a kidney transplant. Blackburn put his practice on hold to donate his own kidney. The preparation, operation and subsequent recovery time ended his momentum. In 2006, at the age of 73, he had his first solo show since 1968. Since then, happily, interest in his work has steadily increased. This exhibition features Blackburn’s new works alongside many of the works he was making before he dropped from the scene in the 1960s.
John Blackburn - Three Forms Leaning Left, 2008
Featured Image: Mark Bradford - Artwork