Coup de Grace rather than Bienvenu



Coup de Grace rather than Bienvenu, or 'Action Painting overshadows its opposite'.

Guilty by association,many works of genuine profundity by the likes of Rothko have been stained by the action painters of post war New York. Whereas Rothko expanded the possibilities of comprehension Pollock ,for me was reductive if not unoriginal. Action painters collapsed the wide horizons of Art to the instantaneous, and in doing so rendered the Art world poised to claim that 2d Painting was no longer a contemporary medium and that its fate was terminal. Abstract Expressionism unfortunately worked with a backdrop of the 'American Dream' consuming the nuclear family on a drip of instant gratification, omnipresent supermarkets, modern conveniences and social mimesis. Art had to contend with the social and economic need to recover from the global self-destruction of war, America emerging as leader of the free world as well as the migration of Artist's from 'broken Europe' to New York wanting to shine again. New York invented Western post war cultural values and people wanted a part of it.

Absract Expressioism had however offered 'freedom' of the way artists work practically, their processes revised, and began to consign previous work to a museum rather than open to all without it being institutionalized.It ignored those urging not to jump-ship for some rainbow that paid well. It did not equate with humanities imperfection, the random as well as man's attempt to formulate make equations by doomed logic, but most of all it neglected the fallibility of sporadic human insight and its inevitable limitations, choked by the mortal coil.

Immediacy of the instantaneous throttled by its human short-termism.

There is no doubt that the vibrancy, beauty and licence to celebrate the 'now' captivated audiences. But I think that you can only recognize the true value by the validity of the 'permanent'.At that moment when you turn around you see the pillar of beauty, truth, honesty and heroism of the explosion of action painting, turned to a artistic pillar of salt, precisely because it lionizes the ever restricting window of artistic resonance. Time has been restricted to a 'photograph' of life by abstract collision of unsustainability, passing life like a boiling comet of glorious colour and magnificent display, that won't pass earth for a century, but ricochets around the cold universe capitalizing on our short spans of attention.

Conclusion

What if you don't pick your era, but fate does?What if you don't choose which fight but fate does? what if you don't pick your weaponry to go into artistic battle, but fate does? As an ambivalent critic of abstract Expressionism I'm still sure that it was fate that I became a Painter(30 years ago), yet paradoxically I believe Life is still all the better thanks to Abstract Expressionism.


© 2019 Stephen Hornsby-Smith

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