Brian Hatton

  • “Approaches to Realism”

    What could be more abstract than realism? Imagine an Arcimboldo figure called “Reality”; of what would it be composed? A chimera of metonyms, magnetized about an absence, or as Nietzsche said of truth, “a mobile army of metaphors, anthropomorphisms . . . human relations . . . ” composing an illusion of presence.

    In “3 American Painters,” Michael Fried spoke of “the gradual withdrawal of reality from the power of painting to represent it.” In his introduction to this show, John Roberts shows awareness of the slippery state of “realism” by prefacing his comments on the paintings by a history of

  • Tony Benn

    When abstract painters pioneered the color field as a final solution to the problem of what Clement Greenberg once called “homeless representation”—the intrusive traces of mundane and redundant images left over from a world of signs irredeemably banalized by business and publicity—they could not have foreseen how, precisely because mass-mediation is itself an idealizing and abstracting process, its products—tele-icons, trademarks, and simulacra of all kinds—would prove so compatible with the sublime voids and yonders of the painted field. The montaging of the Minolta mark, or George Bush’s

  • Edward Allington

    Coincident with Edward Allington’s show, a Tate Gallery survey of early-20th-century responses to Mediterranean antiquity, entitled “On Classic Ground,” mapped three paths across that ground: nostalgic-melancholic (Metaphysical painting), Modernist (Cubism-Purism), and Dionysian (Surrealism). Implicitly, Allington has declared for the last of these. His earlier cornucopias and Pandora’s boxes seethed with the ravishing trash of cheap hallucination: Ovid metamorphosing in kitsch. Then came a beautiful bronze series of combined classical ornamental motifs. Like the English architect John Outram,

  • Roger Ackling

    A postulate of Minimalism and Conceptualism was that art is a kind of phenomenological frame. The frame as such was autonomous, independent of any charge or sign. Purely affirmative in and of itself, it bracketed or suspended the motivation of the world to reveal the motif of the world wherever and whenever the attention arrested. The consequent characteristic of much of this work was a double “ecceity,” or “here-is-ness”; the presence of both art-as-art and thing-as-thing (or site-as-site) was reaffirmed in a simultaneous act. In structuring such work, only two forms of practice were admitted.

  • Art in Ruins

    Although Pop art found architectural parallels and echoes in the work of the Archigram group and of Robert Venturi, the example of Andy Warhol would seem an elusive model for architectural practice. “Warholism,” one might say, is an attitude of mind rather than a method of design, a gaze at the environment rather than an intervention in it. Nevertheless, a gaze forms attitudes, and attitudes become form. In general, it might be said that too many architects are quick on the draw and blind to what is simply there. Hanna Vowles and Glynn Banks are architectural artists; they are architects who

  • Alan Stocker

    Those who accuse abstract art of inhumanity are surely right. Yet what they miss is that absolute nonobjectivity is never actually achieved, but remains, even in the most unrelenting formalism, a mere asymptote of the mind, its fantasy of victory over the body. In reality, the recurrence of resemblance is never overcome, and the autonomous properties and logic of color and configuration serve only to catalyze other capabilities of the imagination. To be sure, the elements of painting exact their own demands, yet each formal shift is but an altered threshold toward a new image-advent.

    Alan Stocker

  • John Stezaker

    With his photocollages, John Stezaker engages in an art of extraction, arresting the ceaseless flow of things seen and excerpting from them individual motifs. He starts not from optical sensations but from the individual thing, disclosed in that spectral entirety, either all there or absent, that is the image. He accepts photography as a condition of universal mediation, an ambience whose simulations displace natural experience with structures of codes and captions. What interests him is the power of fascination, even of residual myth, found in images—a power that gives rise to encodings in the

  • Carlos Villanueva Brandt

    Carlos Villanueva Brandt is an architect who paints as part of the design process. His paintings possess enough fullness and force to command pictorial contemplation. Yet they also have a definite design function, no matter how much they seem to be displaced or detoured by painterly reverie. Their ambivalence raises interesting questions about the function of painting as something other than an end it itself, without threatening the works’ essential integrity.

    Villanueva Brandt is best known as a member of the NATO (Narrative Architecture Today) group. NATO’S “Gamma City” show in 1985 and “British

  • John Latham

    Although John Latham writes profusely about “event structure,” he has not ventured to enact his theorizing as event. He has created a mass of abstract speculations—verbalized concepts—as well as a traditional body of speculative abstractions—that is, artworks. The entire gist of Latham’s project is geared toward the abolition of differences both between analytic theory and intuitive synthesis and between discursive language and symbolic presentation. His writing depends heavily upon physiomathematical theory of a most specialized and recondite nature; moreover, the full appreciation of his

  • Therese Oulton

    “But what could replace the object?” Nonfigurative painters continue to be plagued by Kandinsky’s anxiety about the object, as well as his worry about decorative decline. Thérèse Oulton’s recent works offer ample confirmation of the continuity of these primary concerns. Nonfigurative art is now an old tradition, and Oulton’s pictures reflect this simultaneous accumulation of years and withering of horizons. For a young painter, she seems remarkably care-laden, just as her paintings are laden with incrustations and webs that connote airless colors from the Jacobean stage or the memories locked