Stephen Mueller

Annina Nosei Gallery

For anyone who considers the idea of an artistic canon to be more than apolitical blasphemy, the question inevitably arises of where to plunk the adherents of Formalism, after the movement’s fall from ideological grace. There are a number of ’70s painters diligently exploring pictorial space within the well-defined limits of formalist abstraction, most notably Joan Snyder, Louise Fishman, Thomas Nozkowski, and Stephen Mueller. Work by other painters with similar artistic pedigrees, such as Elizabeth Murray and Mary Heilmann, represents a more twisted variety, whimsically playing with the psychological possibilities of abstract painting. Younger artists, like Jessica Stockholder, further displace the formalist esthetic by coaxing it out of the picture frame and into a world of polymorphous shapes and materials.

This lineage, though crude and speculative, helps to explain why, when looking

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