In the early- to mid- 1960s there was a loose collection of mainly American painters creating abstract work which well-known art critic Clement Greenberg dubbed “Post-Painterly Abstraction”. Although it is difficult to succinctly describe a large and varied movement of artists, essentially what he was calling attention to seems to be more of a pervasive mood driving the painters of the sixties. With an ever-living and evolving collective voice, the American abstract painters were shifting away from some of the Abstract Expressionist flavors that were growing stale and overused, and were compelled towards a cleaner, more decisive abstraction that is undoubtedly infused with the electricity that is special to the sixties.
Morris Louis, Stripes 2-14, Poster
Ellsworth Kelly-Jaune Sur Bleu
Gene Davis-Three Aces
1973 Lithograph SIGNED
Robert Mangold-Red/Gray Zone
The work invariably shows an adept skill with simplicity that is rich with vitality, proving a strong recipe for art that holds power, and channeling the energy of a young and impassioned generation of progressive artists through the inarguable language of abstracted beauty.
Frank Stella, Seward Park, 2003 Serigraph ; Frank Stella, Seward Park (close-up) , 2003 Serigraph
In this mesmerizing silkscreen of Frank Stella’s Seward Park, there is an evident tangibly satisfying feeling as we are invited in to experience the piece as non-separate emotion. Stella’s work at this time was pronounced by an emphasis on the painting as an object, as opposed to a depiction of something. He has masterfully forgone the need for conceptual interpretation, and opens the door for a more material interaction and communication thereby.
Helen Frankenthaler, Paris Review, 1965 Lithograph, SIGNED
As one of the few females of the movement, Helen Frankenthaler was a color-field pioneer known for her lyrical and gestural sensibilities. In this signed and numbered stone lithograph titled Paris Review, her calmly achieved balance is virtuosic — and at no expense of spontaneity. She is known to have said, “A really good picture looks as if it’s happened at once.” Her impulses and artistic vision seem wholly uninhibited by the confines of description.
Sam Francis, National Collection of Fine Arts, 1968 Mourlot Lithograph
And in National Collection of Fine Arts, a Mourlot-printed stone lithograph from Sam Francis, a reverent tie to bold expressive instinct can be seen. Francis was interested in the explorative power of color throughout the many styles and influences he worked with, and what is evident here is his assertion of spirit grounded in an intuitive nature, lending an almost automatic motion that is glimmering with energy.
Abstract art is a broad and multifaceted category, and zooming in on some of the most inspired artists of 1960s America shows an enlightening window into the qualities of creative expression in that time.