Let's Get Provisional
Post #1645 • February 20, 2014, 10:45 AM • 2 Comments
If you’re interested in contemporary painting you’ve probably noticed that a massive realignment in the art-world is underway. As if waking from a culturally induced coma, abstract painting is back and ready to make up for lost time. Leading the critical charge are what’s been christened “provisional” or “casual” paintings; flagship abstract styles that seem to embrace aesthetic poverty as a positive factor. Wildly diverse in scale, scope, media and quality, these paintings share few formal or technical traits and are bound together mainly by their inexplicable appeal to artists and writers alike. However, if you find the hype disproportionate to the reality of this revival of abstraction, you’re not alone. Here then, are three hypotheses that explain its current popularity.
Sharon Butler helpfully provides an expanded exposition on her original essay at her blog.
As for me, I vote for #1. We've been in a situation for a long time when so many artists are working that you could make a case for practically anthing being a movement. This gives me a more jaundiced view of curating than writing, though as a writer I cop to self-interest on that point. But possibilities #2 and #3 aren't out of the question, and are worth considering in this excellent essay, though I would quibble that modernism itself has life in it yet and not all of the arguments for it have run out of juice. A return to some of its core principles might be healthy.