new-york

George McNeil

Howard Wise Gallery

George McNeil manages to avoid falling into either of the two major pitfalls that plagued late Abstract Expressionism: poor color and the lack of coherent structure. His color—predominantly the complementary hues of red and green, orange and blue, is adroitly set off by touches of black and white. Because his palette is so conventional, the paintings don’t mean much as a color experience, but the brilliance of the hues does manage to keep the paint lively and healthy looking and to compensate for the deadness that naturally issues from overpainting. The best pictures—Cassandra and Clarabel—tend to treat the figure (the motif on which the work is based) as a legible shape with closed contours. This prevents the confusion that results in less successful works such as High Society, when open contours allow background and figure to flow into one another in a manner which undermines the coherence

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