Estienne was a critic who, in the 1950s, attempted to seek a rapprochement between the surrealist movement and contemporary abstraction; Mathieu is a gestural abstract painter who, with the critic Michel Tapie, developed a theory of gestural abstraction
whose conceptual bases were very different from those established by Estienne and Breton.
When she brings her gestural abstractions
to ceramics, silks, or even billboard-scale wallpaper prints, she means to inhabit the history and specificities of those media, to assimilate their properties and unique cultural baggage.
In her smeared shoreline reflections, overgrown garden paths veering toward gestural abstraction
, and fried-egg suns, the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists loom large, and there are even hints of Gustav Klimt's gloriously packed botanical compositions (and his Midas touch).
A close reading of the paintings, however, suggests the glimmerings of a different intent: By collapsing the institutionalized separation of ink and oil painting and refusing both the interiority of gestural abstraction
and the symbolism of figurative representation, tansaekhwa artists sought to produce a position in between conventional systems of order, a space in which to situate (and thereby prioritize) the viewer.
Balancing these quiet wintry scenes, the assemblage compositions with shells and sand move between Malibu-style fantasy and standard gestural abstraction
As a result, this group of roughly twenty-five-year-old paintings occupies an important historical and strategic middle ground between the gestural abstraction
of the 1950s and the ironic, pastiched, or provisional practices that characterize so much recent abstract painting.
Aiming to refocus our attention on the moment "when bodies become art," curator Martin Engler posits that Manzoni's primary target was the mythologization and commodification of the human body in postwar gestural abstraction
Late to a fair to which she would not have been invited anyway, she has persevered--to striking consequence--with nervy, muscular gestural abstraction
for the past five decades.
So: blobs and geometry, coded social insignia and gestural abstraction
, race, power, and stains.
Fully documented in Corinna Belz's new documentary, Gerhard Richter Painting (2011), the squeegee process becomes transparent as an operation at the extreme opposite end from what chance operations in the wake of the Surrealist legacies of automatism had still promised: Starting the production of each canvas with strange rehearsals of various forms of gestural abstraction
, as though moving through recitals of its legacies, in the final phases Richter seems literally to execute the painting with a massive device that rakes paint across an apparently carefully planned and painted surface.
AbEx is there, of course, in works that dramatize the false promises and ignominious deliquescence of the genre, pushing gestural abstraction
to its stained, ripped, debased, and de-skilled limits (witness David Hammons's recent suite of literally trash-bagged pictures).
REVIEWING THE 1961 PITTSBURGH TRIENNIAL in the pages of Art International, William Rubin lamented the shallow ubiquity of gestural abstraction
within both the show and contemporary painting more broadly.
They are, to be sure, less powerful than the gestural abstractions
of the New York School, but they nonetheless exude a subtle energy.
Wastewater pools as fields of bleeding and marbleizing saturated hues suggest that Fair came of aesthetic age with Abstract Expressionism, as they resemble nothing so much as richly gestural abstractions
by Willem de Kooning or stained fields by Helen Frankenthaler.
Over time, she sees how the character of her gestural abstractions
shifts from vehemence to grace.