Dorothea Rockburne – Arena III, 1978



From cool austere works that employ large expanses of folded white paper to radiant and richly-colored composition on flowing vellum sheets, Dorothea Rockburne's works are marked by intellectual rigor, innovation, and a remarkable em.e of wonder. Although she has at times been associated with movements such as Minimalism, Process Art or Conceptual Art, her abstract works ultimately defy such classifications. Informed by a fascination with mathematics, science and astronomy and deeply influenced by the painting and architecture of the Italian quattrocentro, Rockburne's works embody a complex expression of correspondences. Rockburne attended the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1950 where she studied painting with artists such as Franz Kline and Philip Guston, music with John Cage, dance with Merce Cunningham and mathematics with Max Dehn. Alongside classmates like Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly, Rockburne flourished at Black Mountain as she found the intellectual foundation and artistic inspiration for her ...

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Robert Motherwell – Red Open #3, 1973



The art of Robert Motherwell is distinguished by subjects both tragic and lyrical, a temperament alternately ascetic and sensual, and compositions by turns monumental or intimate. Motherwell studied philosophy at Stanford (B.A.1937) and at Harvard University. Settling in New York in 1939, he continued his studies at Columbia University and became acquainted with Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko, all influential members of the first generation of Abstract Expressionist painters. His academic background and literary skills prompted him to organize forums, symposia, and panel discussions, as well as write and lecture to promulgate and clarify the principles of the new abstract painting being produced in the 1950s. Red Open #3 is a signature work from Motherwell's Open series of paintings which he initiated in 1967. Painted a vibrant crimson red, it towers seven feet in height. Its rich red field is animated by a white-outlined "window," several ...

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Jean Arp – Seuil aux creneaux végétaux, 1959



Jean (Hans) Arp was one of the major figures to emerge from the Dada movement that formed in Zürich during the First World War. Working in a wide variety of media throughout his long and influential career—including reliefs, collages, drawings, tapestries and sculptures—Arp's works are based on his desire to create essential, elemental forms and embody his wish that his art "fit naturally in nature." The career of Jean Arp is characterized by whimsy, poetry and an inexhaustible search for new forms. Arp studied at the Strasbourg School of Arts and Crafts in Weimar from 1905 to 1907 and the Academie Julian in Paris in 1908. Although Arp participated in a number of significant exhibitions in Germany and Switzerland following his studies, including the second Blaue Reiter exhibition in Munich in 1912, Arp's mature career did not begin until after the outbreak of World War I when he moved to Zürich ...

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Richard Anuszkiewicz – Magenta Squared (271), 1969



Richard Anuszkiewicz came to critical notice in 1965, when he was included in the milestone exhibition that brought him international recognition-The Responsive Eye at the Museum of Modern Art. Anuszkiewicz was associated with a new type of abstraction known as Color Field Painting or Post-Painterly Abstraction, marked by an emphasis on large scale, unmodulated color, clean edge, and "all-over" design. The new painting addressed the expressive interactions of pure color and shape alone; it was devoid of all literary content and other outside references. Anuszkiewicz's paintings were further linked to the sixties abstraction of Frank Stella, Kenneth Noland, and Ellsworth Kelly. Known as Hard­ Edge Painting or Op Art, it cultivated clean-cut geometric form, saturated color, and an exceptional visual liveliness. Its essential character was an elaboration of an earlier tradition of abstraction that was developed at the Bauhaus in Germany and espoused by Josef Albers, with whom Anuszkiewicz had ...

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Robert Rauschenberg – Moon Burn, 1977



Robert Rauschenberg created some of the most ambitious art of the twentieth century using the bric-a-brac of his everyday world. With detritus collected from New York City streets—fabrics, tin cans, newspapers, bird wings, tires, magazine ads, pillows, electric fans, and twisted metal—Rauschenberg represented the emerging consumer culture of the 1950s while radically transforming the future of artmaking. Rauschenberg collapsed age-old hierarchies about subject matter and materials, putting high art reproductions next to comic book characters and juxtaposing abstract expressionist brushstrokes with mechanically printed signboard fragments. When in the early 1960s Rauschenberg began to concentrate on found imagery in silkscreen paintings and transfer drawings, he continued to let the look of the quotidian world assist in the visual effect of the piece. Moon Burn represents this well. It teems with found imagery and is a wonderful example of Rauschenberg's relentless exploration of new materials, structures, and technologies. Rauschenberg was born in the ...

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Philip Pearlstein – Female Model Reclining on Red and Black American Bedspread



Philip Pearlstein's unsparing depictions of graceless nude models in stark studio settings have long set him apart from mainstream aesthetic currents and Female Model Reclining on Red and Black American Bedspread is a perfect representative example. Indeed, for only a few years at the beginning of his career in the 1950s did his then-expressionist paintings of landscapes coalesce with the artistic temper of the times. By 1961–62 Pearlstein had begun his momentous shift to the representation of the human figure and simultaneous abandonment of gestural, abstract painting. Eschewing excess emotionality in favor of clarity and directness, he claimed to want "nothing of mythology, or psychology to obtrude; I wanted to divest my vision of both Freud and Jung." Compositionally, however, Pearlstein was convinced that the realistic depiction of forms could rival the dynamics of abstract art. He explained, "The prime technical idea I took was that large forms deployed across the ...

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Paul Jenkins – Phenomena Veil Over & Under



Overlapping wings of color stretch upwards in Paul Jenkins's Phenomena Veil Over & Under. As the title suggests, the transparent flowing veils overlap and interact. They invite readings as both abstract forms and as evocations of parts of the physical world. Born William Paul Jenkins in Kansas City, Missouri, the artist felt an early call to the ministry. This spiritual dimension remained when Jenkins turned to art and theater. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, and worked at playhouses in Kansas City, Youngstown , and Cleveland, before taking playwriting classes in Pittsburgh and New York and painting at the Art Students League (1948-1951). In 1953, Jenkins moved to Europe, traveling through Italy, Spain, and Sicily, before settling in Paris, where he remained until the 1960s, when he began dividing his time between NewYork and Paris. Dissatisfied with his early attempts at suggesting spiritual reality through figurative art, Jenkins gradually ...

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Andy Warhol – Edson-Pele from 10 Portraits of Athletes



Andy Warhol is known for announcing the fact that everyone should be famous for fifteen minutes. Indeed, fame was what drove Warhol. He cultivated it by his spectacularly cool persona, surrounded himself with famous people, and depicted fame in picture after picture of Hollywood celebrities, political figures, chic fashion personalities, rock musicians, well-known socialites, and star athletes, such as Portuguese soccer star Pele featured in Edson-Pele. Andy Warhol was possibly the most important twentieth-century artist ushering in the era of postmodern art with its detached and ironic play of appropriated signs. He predicted the mass media's effect on society in pictures drawn from the exploding media culture around him. Displaying car crashes or electric chairs in repetitive serial fashion, Warhol demonstrated the anaesthetizing effect of seeing a tragic image over and over again. Similarly, the endless Coke bottles and Campbell's soup cans underscored the celebrated sameness and banality of the ...

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Saul Steinberg – Speech 2



Speech 2, like many of Saul Steinberg's works, tantalizes viewers by seeming at first a light-hearted picture puzzle filled with visual puns. Quickly one is drawn ever deeper into wrestling with layers of meaning. Steinberg has been called "a writer of pictures" and "a draftsman of philosophical reflections." Born near Bucharest, Romania, Steinberg studied sociology and psychology at the University of Bucharest before earning a doctoral degree in architecture at the Reggio Politechnico in Milan, Italy (1940). For him, "The study of architecture is a marvelous training for anything but architecture. The frightening thought that what you draw may become a building makes for reasoned lines." He published his first "cartoons" during these years in humor magazines and observed that, "In Fascist Italy, where the controlled press was predictable and extremely boring…the nature of humor itself, seemed subversive." The rising tensions of World War II forced him to undertake a roundabout journey out ...

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Claes Oldenburg – Clothespin-Four Foot Version



Claes Oldenburg is the most important sculptor associated with American Pop art. Although Pop art was diverse in expression, an attraction to the ordinary things of a consumer society bound together artists as different as Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, and Oldenburg. Presenting the artifacts of popular culture in a straightforward manner, these artists were initially suspected of forfeiting any imaginative transformation of their sources. But Pop artists always altered the object at hand—be it a comic strip, a billboard, a media photograph or soup can. What emerged in their works were highly personal meditations instilled with ironic critiques of modern American culture. Since 1969, Oldenburg has produced over two dozen Large-Scale Projects, many of them in collaboration with Coosje van Bruggen. Located in cities of the United States and Europe, these "colossal monuments" include a flashlight, baseball bat, garden hose, binoculars, and shuttlecocks. Oldenburg's "things" are not literal ...

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With Eyes Opened: Cranbrook Academy of Art Since 1932 Currently on View