Friday, April 17, 2009

i had the great pleasure of attending a lecture by irving sandler, author of the seminal work, The Triumph of American Painting, published in 1970. the lecture was to introduce his new work, Abstract-Expressionism and The American Experience: A Re-Evaluation. sandler was concise and eloquent. his main point in the new book being his idea that pollock, de kooning and interestingly enough, clyfford still make up the most important artists of the ab-ex movement, particularly from the pivotal years of '47-'50. the clyfford still pick was a bit of a stretch to my mind at first, but sandler seems to believe still offered heavy doses of influence to both rothko and newman. he didn't go into whether or not this influence was more intellectual or with regard to formal composition, but it made sense. another premise he pushed was that both pollock and still were from the western plains, and that that experience pushed their vast "landscapes" and vistas-- hence the influence on rothko and newman; 2 very urban artists. makes sense.

one point he made really resonated with me, particularly with regards to my own work. sandler mentioned that, in writing his new work, he wondered why certain artists didn't meet his criteria of the most important art. what was that criteria?? his finalization was that there was great "lyrical" art being done (bradley walker tomlin, was mentioned), but that only the art dealing with the tragic and the "terrible sublime" reached the level of the "most important art."