|Kenneth Martin, Chance, Order, Change 26, History Painting, 1983|
Chance, Order, Change: Abstract Paintings, 1939 – 1989 is at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts until 8 May 2016.
Small, but almost perfectly formed, this exquisite exhibition of a mere 11 abstract paintings is a delight. One wall, featuring work by Sean Scully, Alan Charlton, Robert Ryman, Kenneth Martin and Ad Reinhardt, presents very fine examples of some of the most pure, rigorous and beautiful, abstract painting. On the opposite wall there are three works by Josef Albers: he is presented, here, as a key figure in the story of post-war abstraction on account of his experience as a student and teacher at the Bauhaus and thus in the vanguard of Modernist experiments in abstraction. When the Nazis closed the Bauhaus in 1933 Albers moved to the USA where he became an influential teacher, first at Black Mountain College and then at Yale. Albers’ series Homage to the Square (sustained over some 26 years) is a model of disciplined composition – an approach which is manifested in the work of all the artists included in the show. In addition to those artists already mentioned there are works by Bridget Riley and Victor Pasmore – in my view, Pasmore is the only weak link in the chain forged between the selected artists who, otherwise, constitute a splendid exhibition.
|Josef Albers, Construction in Red-Black-Blue, 1939|
|Josef Albers, Homage to the Square: Affectionate, 1954|
|Ad Reinhardt, Abstract Painting. (NB the image here shows Abstract Painting 1960-66 - the work in the show is Abstract Painting 1957; both are black.)|
|Bridget Riley, Orphean Elegy 7, 1979|
|Robert Ryman, Courier, 1982|
|Alan Charlton, Ten Part Line Painting, 1984|
|Sean Scully, Red Painting, 1989|