Charles Ross

John Weber Gallery

Light is an archetypical symbol with similar meanings in many cultures; it is used as a metaphor for visibility and warmth, understanding and knowledge. In painting, beyond any metaphorical content, light is an essential aspect of color and shape—the tonalities capable of conveying incandescence ranging from tenebroso and chiaroscuro to plein air painting and the abstract luminousness of Rothko and Reinhardt. However, at the source of light as a pictorial means is light as pure energy and information. Light as an aspect of the energy field, while not always consciously used within the art context, is at the root of much abstract art. For example, the recognition of mass as energy in relation to its dynamic effects was reflected in the work of Kandinsky, who attributed his development as an abstract painter after 1911 to his shock at learning that the atom had been split, writing that

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.