COLOR FIELDS was on-view at the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin until January 10th. The exhibit spans a time period from 1959-1974 and follows both German and American historical moments as filtered through Color-Field paintings. Color-Field painting was a movement that broke away from Abstract Expressionism and focused solely on the endless promise found with color/paint on a surface. Ironically, the scene was most prominent in New York, and now I was experiencing these paintings in Berlin along with Leo Kuelbs and Kai Teichert.
Well known New York art critic and curator Clement Greenberg was one of the first proponents of the movement and organized the exhibition Post Painterly Abstraction in 1964 in Los Angeles. From the Guggenheim website: Their work emphasized the flatness of the picture plane, marking no distinction between subject and background.
At the mention of detachment between subject and background, I can’t help but add that while in the large, one room gallery space, I found that the individuals in the room where part of the installation. The bodies in front of the Color Fields somehow became almost as important as the art itself. The curators and installers have done a successful job at establishing a symbiotic relationship between the viewer and the work. While the work has an outstanding, vibrant presence, I feel that the accidental interaction with the viewer adds not only to the show, but also lends itself to giving the work a sense of space and even a “subject” if you will. What the Color Field painters did with paint was attempt to take out the humanity. They let the paint just be and in doing so, at every attempt of detachment you will find the mark of human presence. If not in the frame of the canvas, but in the surrounding space.
From New York to Berlin to New York, with Love