new-york

Morris Louis

Rubin Gallery

While it is undeniable that the paintings of Morris Louis excel in optical luminescence and colorism, I have sometimes felt that putting them too confidently in the Post-painterly bag does them a kind of violence of historical reduction. In this I feel confirmed or at least encouraged by the recent exhibition of seven of his paintings at the Lawrence Rubin Gallery. Certainly works like these, in their latter-day rayonnance, belong to the party of Matisse. In Untitled B, painted in 1954, the very year of Matisse’s death, there is even a whole area on the right-hand side of Matisse Blue, almost as if in direct allusion. But Louis’s whole attitude toward the fabrication of a work still seems to me to be part and parcel of the esthetic of action painting.

In the first place, I am struck by the ever-present feeling of arrested flux and second, the application of pigment. Despite the decision to

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