Walter 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

  • 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