Walter D. Bannard

  • Quality, Style and Olitski

    ALL ART, GOOD OR BAD, bad, is outwardly just stuff. As an inventory of materials it is like anything else similarly composed. It becomes art when it is made up and presented as art. Then it comes before a special set of apperceptions we call taste. The function of taste is to find out the value the work of art has for us, and that judgment is expressed in terms of quality. Quality is carried by the materials as they reflect the activity of the artist as he made the work. A great work of art holds up a high standard of human excellence brought into mundane material, perhaps “captured” by the

  • Caro’s New Sculpture

    SCULPTURE HAS ALWAYS BEEN devoted to, and reached its highest expression, depicting the human figure. Sculpture concentrated especially on the figure because the physical difficulties of the medium would not allow panoramic depiction. Therefore sculpture never had a tradition of openness and extension—qualities natural to it—counting instead on the movement and surface of a mass. Ironically it was painting, the art of surface, which handed sculpture an instant tradition of openness and extension.

    Painting is naturally adapted to the depiction of real images in (an illusion of) deep space. The

  • Noland’s New Paintings

    MOST OF THE BEST RECENT painting is abstract, and we are asked to accept as high art configurations of simple things which retain their identity because they are not subordinated to depiction. One obstacle to the proper reception of what is wrongly called “formalist” art writing is its insistence on mere visual fact: a line, a colored patch, a smooth surface, the edge of a rectangle. These things are not intrinsically interesting, and when they come up in art writing their newfound weight can seem dumbfounding or silly. But there are those who should know better, members of the art public who

  • Touch and Scale: Cubism, Pollock, Newman, Still

    THE TWO WORDS of the title evolved somewhat special meanings as I wrote this essay. By touch I mean the visible evidence of the paint stroke, by scale, the size of the canvas in relation to the less flexible size of the artist, his hand and arm and his painting tools. Touch and scale are attributes of painting. The stroke will be more or less visible, and the canvas will be more or less large. Touch and scale are totally interdependent and both are interdependent with style.

    Scale is usually thought of as quantity only; a big thing seems simply bigger than a small thing. For example, we marvel