San Antonio

Judith Godwin

McNay Art Museum

When Judith Godwin moved to New York in 1953, making abstract paintings was still risky, both professionally and personally. The measure of serious abstraction had only recently been established by first-generation Abstract Expressionists. If the younger artists who emulated them did not fully grasp the relationship between formal strategies and feeling, then their work would merely standardize Abstract Expressionism’s stylistic features. When genuine spontaneity was replaced by what Clement Greenberg called the “Tenth Street touch,” the insidious effect was to weaken the audience’s, and the artist’s, ability to discern the differences between them. Greenberg noted in 1948 that abstraction demands “a heightening of consciousness so that the artist will know when he is being truly spontaneous and when he is working only mechanically.”

Had he been writing a decade later, Greenberg might have

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