PRINT March 1970

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 it seems right. It has always been my experience that isolated picture units render failed art. But there is no proof of cause. Perhaps there cannot be. To prove it we must specify criteria for art quality, which no one has been able to do. So we must be content with a reasonable argument.

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