Darby Bannard

  • Notes on an Auction

    A RECENT WORK OF ART has no stable, expressed value. Its sale and the establishment of its worth in money is usually hidden and hushed. Secretiveness is built into the marketing of recent art, especially of new art, because each art dealer wants to sell something he claims to be of lasting quality which has not had the time to last. It is a delicate and risky business and it demands fingertip feeling and a sharp sense of drama and timing. The value of an artist’s work depends on his reputation, which acts as a surrogate for quality in new art because new art is usually judged and bought by those

  • Color Painting and the Map Problem


    IN SEVERAL ESSAYS FOR THIS magazine I have written that mutual isolation of pictorial units is a problem for abstract painting. This essay is a further discussion of the negative importance of isolation and an explanation of the “map problem,” a problem of Topology (the mathematics of surface), the effects of which are relevant to abstract painting and the understanding of which will clarify an obstacle inherent in abstract color painting.

    I have always assumed as self-evident that the mutual isolation of picture units weakens a painting. It is easy to get agreement to this assumption because

  • Notes on American Painting of the Sixties

    THERE WAS A LOT OF PAINTING done in the sixties. No review could describe and evaluate all of it and it is unlikely that any art writer would want to try. The first thing to do is to select the work, and usually we play the part of history, try to pick out, at a short distance in time, art of high quality, art which will last. Give or take a few lapses, “history” is the most convincing critic, and most art writers try to stand by her side. But how does one know what is good of recent art? If you put it straight to them most members of the art public would quickly answer that there is no sure

  • Hofmann’s Rectangles

    HANS HOFMANN WAS THE ONLY ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST to use color as a free, fully relational pictorial element, full blast, undimmed by the usual dull requirements of Cubist space. This essay is not about that splendid color, nor about the very high quality of his art, which I leave aside as a prior assumption. It is about a purely spatial device which Hofmann contrived to let color in on a reluctant style: the superimposed “floating” rectangle which figured in so many of the paintings of the last ten years of his life.

    Hofmann was a Cubist-Abstract-Expressionist. His chosen style was large-scale

  • Jack Burnham’s Beyond Modern Sculpture

    Jack Burnham, “Beyond Modern Sculpture: The Effects of Science and Technology on the Sculpture of This Century” (George Braziller, 1968); 402 pages, 135 illustrations in black and white.

    BEYOND MODERN SCULPTURE IS a strange book. It seems to be about a very modern type of sculpture which employs materials related to science and technology. As such it is aggressively up-to-date and indeed looks to the future, as the title implies (assuming “beyond” means “ahead in time,” not “over in the next county,” or some such). But if Beyond Modern Sculpture was really about technologically implemented light

  • Willem de Kooning’s Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art

    TO THE ART PUBLIC WILLEM DE KOONING is the “central” or most typical Abstract Expressionist. His paintings epitomize the style. The reaction of painters against the several forms and mannerisms of Abstract Expressionism has been strong and extreme since 1962 and continues although that style has been displaced by newer styles. Since quality is often associated with style, it is tempting to judge all Abstract Expressionist paintings by the quality of the paintings of the best-known advocate of the style and to size up Abstract Expressionism rather than what one artist did with it. It is difficult

  • Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, David Smith

    ART REVOLUTION IS LIKE REAL-LIFE WAR. Both bring violent change, vast destruction and technological “advance,” and make conditions which must be reckoned with as the rebuilding proceeds. Cubism offered us a chance at abstract art, but in the course of its first growth it destroyed, or seemed to destroy, or seemed to render unimportant to art many of the materials, activities and effects natural to painting and sculpture. This essay is about Cubism, its problems and promise, and its formal variety in the work of two recent American artists: Jackson Pollock and David Smith.

    Cubism was precipitated

  • Present-Day Art and Ready-Made Styles

    PRESENT-DAY AMERICAN PAINTING and sculpture is very vital. It is split into many styles. Each style has its own qualities and some sort of audience. There is a “culture boom,” which means that attention and money are being directed toward art. Art gets a lot of publicity. This is a stimulating atmosphere for artists. Consequently there are more artists making more art than ever before, and some of this work is very good. On the other hand, most of this huge production is inferior. Much of this inferior work is being done within the confines of several contemporary styles whose very nature limits

  • Color, Paint and Present-Day Painting

    IN RECENT YEARS MUCH ATTENTION has been given to color in painting. More paintings with a broad range and deliberate use of strong color are being shown now than four or five years ago. Painters who set up color problems in their paintings are considered avant-garde; they are often referred to as “color painters” or “color-field painters.” Pop and optical artists, who use color less as content than the so-called color painters do, nevertheless lean heavily on color to help provide the effects of identification, shock and illusion, and some of them actually use a broader range of colors than the