dayoutlast is a record of my direct engagement with mostly contemporary art, mostly Los Angelean.

As this blog has evolved since its 2010 inception, so has my perspective. What I once perceived as central within the investigation was what was central, literally, within the photographic frame that I shared here. While still an important consideration, such thinking has also given way to more peripheral considerations, ones also accompanied occasionally by text (written manifestation of thought) and the oscillations between them. What's missing here are larger unknowns surrounding issues of presentation and representation; the amount of time and space it actually takes to accomplish such first-hand observations; and the quandaries between documentation and interpretation.

Despite my attempt to communicate here with image and text what is essential in some respect about the artwork, neither representation should ever be considered a substitution for the primary viewing experience. Of course, occasionally there are exceptions.

Most of the time, these posts are merely remnants---residual fragments---from my last day out.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Agnes Martin @ LACMA


Mid-Winter, 1954
Oil on canvas

Amorphous biomorphic shapes. Ungrounded. Line defines shape. Color fills space. Neutrals (Browns, grays, white ranges). Field is ambiguous. Arthur Dove.



Untitled, 1955
Oil on canvas



Most shapes occupy their own, untouched space. Lack of cellular interaction. Ghostly lines at best near brushier interactions. Tentative. Cf. crossing marks that move towards a circle from the inside out, rather than outlined, then filled.


Untitled, 1955
Oil on canvas


Line continues suggesting figure, land, though largely inconclusive. Cf. Miro. David Smith. Early Rothko. White increases, neutrals decrease. Faint yellow emerges.



Untitled, 1957
Oil on gypsum board

Aerial perspective, if not flat, compositional design/decoration. Lines thicken. Shapes shift from organic to more geometric. Space is clarified, organized, compartmentalized. Range of whites dominate. Tan and one circle of bluish gray.



Untitled, 1957
Oil on canvas

Division in two parts. One line (white or gray?). Relative shades between black and white but in only three shades. Square at 45 degree angle inside is a black diamond that just fits. Or two triangles? Again, the suggestion of comnections to form wholes that are completed by the viewer.  An idea and a visual phenomenon. Rotating space.



Untitled, 1958
Oil on canvas


Square, larger canvas (painting white). Gray circle is central. Off-white framed squares radiate from center reasserting painting frame NOT what's at center. So, squaring a circle. Cf. Irwin. Line is therefore thick progressive boundaries. Not fussy. Advancing/receding image.



Rain (Study), 1958
Oil on canvas


Untitled, 1958
Oil on canvas


Untitled, 1959
Oil on canvas


Grouping of three. Dividing space both horizontally/vertically. No lines. Shape and color exploration in both low and high contrasts. Off-white/gray connects all three as a framing/defining device.



The Garden, 1958
Oil and sound objects on wood




Attempting to get a handle on whether door or window. Real or imagined (llusion/perception) vision. Tonal shifts in gray and brown.  Title suggests aerial perspective rather than frontal.



Burning Tree, 1961
Wood and metal



Optical teeth. Free-standing. Wood and metal (brown and gray). Symmetrical sculpture that can be taken as a whole. Therefore, no privileged view nor hierarchy. Rotating optics. Upward, energetic movement.



Buds, 1959
Oil on canvas



Soft neutrals. Five rows and seven columns of pencilled-in circles are centered with room for one more row at both top and bottom. Emphasizes the push/pull of presence and absence. Spatial ambiguity. Circles against squares in multiples.



Heather, 1958
Oil on canvas


Soft brushy, not fussy. Two rectangles (one yellow, the other tan) divided vertically and contained entirely within the frame. Left, right. Windows.



The Heavenly Race (Running), 1959
Oil and graphite on canvas


Repetition of shapes, tiled from top down in three rows. Rectangles that are rounded across each bottom. Divided space horizontally. One filled, the other empty. Again, these dualities (presence/absence, line/shape, pattern/nothing). Static, white noise.



Desert Rain, 1957


Reconciling vertical and horizontal across a middle. Under painting as yellow (effect and symbol of light) is subdued under gray, cloudy haze. Overcast like the general viewing context of the exhibition. Yes!




Untitled, 1959
Oil on canvas


Cross-cutting the dark circle (establishing structure/division, a void within a field of white nothing, but which is which?). Cf. earlier, biomorphic searching brushwork.  Uneven triangular divisions alternate producing movement and rhythm. Cf. toothy sculpture, Burning Tree.







Horizon, 1960
Oil on canvas




Untitled, 1960






Untitled, 1960
Oil on canvas






Untitled, 1960
Oil on canvas


A gallery full of interplay between shape, pattern, rhythm and slight color and tonal shifts. Soft touch and meditation. Shortcomings of cameras are revealed that doubtfully intended.  Asserting the priority of a direct, intimate relationship with the work. This is in direct conflict with institutional (legal) restrictions. The 3 feet, line on the floor? The optics concern emerges temporally with Op Art also recalling the pointillism of  Seurat, Lichtenstein, and Irwin, the latter who I assume became aware and studied Martin's work during this period. Cf. mid-60s dot paintings. Like webbing and screen (scrim); when doors and windows are defined by light position (inside or out). Asserting center. Pencilling (drawing), then painting. Curious dots at edges relate pattern of paint to possible repositioning of stretching canvas. Staple marks? If so, meticulous at every stage of her process. Yet, not fussy. Again, duality. Compartments/frames of stuttering eyes. Blinds. Ovals=opticals. Painted boundaries, again to emphasize interior vision, what's inside the frame.



Untitled, 1960
Oil on canvas



Little Sister, 1962
Oil ink, and brass nails on canvas and wood




The Islands, 1961
Oil and graphite on canvas






Islands No. 4, 1961
Oil on canvas




Brown Composition, 1961
Oil on canvas



Falling Blue, 1963
Oil and graphite on canvas




Group of 4, large squares (one on each wall). Denim. Hard not to consider the bench of similar dimension and pattern. Even, regular all-over fields that at once contrast with titles, Pollock as "all-over" progenitor, and her own emerging patterns of symmetrical, non-hierarchical tendencies. No figures. No grounds. No space. Alternating drawing and painting, line and shape/color.



A Grey Stone, 1963
Oil on canvas




White Stone, 1964
Oil and graphite on canvas






Untitled, 1964
Acrylic, graphite, and colored pencil on canvas






Grass, 1967
Acrylic and graphite on canvas


The Rose, 1965 (conjures DeFeo but with such different means to a flower) Natural titles (organic) contrast with image in terms of literal, visual connection. So, process, pattern, and time. Color is soft and subtle. Cf. with the dynamics of LeWitts wall-drawings.






Adventure, 1967
Acrylic on graphite on canvas


Adventure. Ruled paper, graph paper, plain paper? (also, literally, toward an arrival, i.e., becoming)



Untitled, 1959
Oil and ink on canvas

Greater personal interest in the pictorial play in terms of depth and spatial orientation including external references.



Words, 1961
Ink on paper mounted on canvas



Works on paper. Space can be divided infinitely, but really with only so many plays between lined grid and painted mark (shape). So, tenuous drawn lines have become structuring/defining element while painted elements are the phenomena. Frame color choices become important or at least apparent.




Untitled V, 1981
Acrylic on graphite on canvas




Untitled #12, 1981
Acrylic and colored pencil on canvas


Collision of drawn, printed, and painted field.


Untitled IX, 1982
Acrylic and graphite on canvas


Could be siding or just drawn lines dividing/dissolving.


Untitled #8, 1974
Acrylic and graphite on canvas


Pinks and blues of twilights. Patterns and waves (cf. light, daily rhythms, routines). Top down or bottom up? Still maintains the blankness/emptiness/whiteness/wholeness at top and bottom.


Untitled #4, 1975
Acrylic and graphite on canvas

Draw first, then paint between the lines. Set the rules, then play the game.


Untitled #12, 1984
Acrylic and graphite on canvas


Whitewash over pencil.





Fiesta, 1985
Acrylic and graphite on canvas




With My Back to the World, 1991
Acrylic on canvas, six panels


This insistence of leaving something same at top and bottom suggests a priority of the horizontal, the horizon, and therefore landscape. So, I am standing in the face of her sublime vision a la Friedrich, for example. An intense, internal quest refers to its external counterpart (the romantic micro/macro continuum). Standing before paintings that depict the sublime act of thinking itself.  Contrary to My Back to the World in terms of point of view?


Untitled #5, 1998
Acrylic and graphite on canvas


Blessings, 2000
Acrylic and graphite on canvas




Gratitude, 2001
Acrylic on canvas


Occasional emerge of central horizon.



Untitled #12, 2002
Acrylic and graphite and canvas




The Sea, 2003
Acrylic and graphite on canvas




Untitled, 2004
Acrylic and graphite on canvas


Easier late works as a return to the looser beginnings.



Untitled #4, 2002
Acrylic and graphite on canvas




Homage to Life, 2003
Acrylic paint and graphite on canvas


A new shape. A final shape.



In fifty years of painting (save a few years off), one can see a progression of spatial inquiry through pencil and brush which returns to a dark shape in the midst of a mid-tone field. See the earlier Mid-Winter, 1954 (below) in contrast with Homage to Life, 2003 (directly above).  The later works return to a fluid state, though refined in terms of geometry rather than free-form organic shapes.  Not quite aligned to the frame of the whole in either canvas, the more recent suggests a closer instance of form following form with slight (non-fussy) deviations.



There is something nice about eyeballing artwork as a maker and a viewer rather than expecting everything to measure up, so to speak, mathematically, geometrically, logically.  Approximation and tension along such edges reasserts a human (humanist) quality.

Oblique references somewhere between hand made/hewn (fabric and grain. Denim, wool, wood) and some remote ideal.  Sticks and stones connect as pencils and crushed pigments are delineated. What divides and what holds things together? Negative space. That which IS abstract. Radiating from center. Sun (energy) and eye (receptor). Interaction between the two=mental processes. i.e.. mind.

A lifelong process of inquiry about space and thinking.  Defining space and what can be done to understand it according to line, shape, and soft color. So, an emphasis on the structure, the rhythm, the pattern.  Color is the floating, amorphous space, the edges of canvases, like an eyeball floating in a fluid, medium, a dynamic state of being aware of everything between center and edge, seeking a quieter, static condition without defaulting to absolute nothing. Malevich (backed into a corner). Not death but life ad infinitum!