Curves & Stripes in Abstraction and The History of Art

Curves & Stripes in Abstraction and The History of Art

Above: Duke and Wigmore No. 24, 2008 by Gary Komarin   It is a most curious thing how some painters lean towards stripes and others towards curves in the development of their work. Neither is better than the other, they sit on opposite sides of the spectrum. Throughout the History of Art, and that of painting in particular, artists have been using both striped and curved motifs in their work. This was a natural progression as the world itself is filled with both striped and curved motifs. The human body is, needless to say, a bundle of carefully orchestrated curves. Architecture, stone slabs, trees that shoot up to the sky in a straight shot – all have aspects of the stripe, which moves in one direction only and does not bend or twist in its ascent. Some bones in the human body are quite straight, but most curve at some point as they reach their ‘attachment’. Painters began, sometime after the beginning of the 20th century, to choose between stripes and curves. I don’t think this was a communal decision. Rather, individual painters in the privacy of their studio and their own thoughts, selected stripes or curves as the motif for their work. With this decision (stripes or curves) painters may have felt that they were reaching ‘higher’ ground, as for many painters there is a spiritual quest that is going on, sometimes consciously, sometimes not. The world is such a complex and uncertain place that I believe it gave some artists great comfort to choose between stripes and curves rather than have this choice be made for them....
Chaos and Control in Contemporary Abstract Painting

Chaos and Control in Contemporary Abstract Painting

Few people, including collectors and aficionados of contemporary abstraction, fully realize how much a painting veers between levels of Chaos and Control. Picasso and his peers opened the door to the idea that a painting could be built up, torn down, and built up again. This swinging Arc between Building and Destroying is part of the Process for Many Abstract Painters And while there are some who proceed with carefully worked out plans, for many painters including me the process is far more chaotic and uncontrolled. You have to make a big mess on the canvas before you can come in and clean up that mess. The well planned canvas may work for some but for painters with my disposition, based on largely intuitive choice and based on moment by moment reaction to what is in front me on the canvas, the experience of painting for me, is more Like jazz. Unlike the process of constructing an office tower in a big city where every single decision is guided by a prior decision and all is controlled so that a cantilevered platform does not collapse on eager visitors to that building, a freely brushed and painterly abstract painting is free from the burdens of responsibility. It can be anything, and while it has an internal order upon completion, that sense of order can be far more oblique than obvious.   The Act of Destruction in painting can be as enjoyable and cathartic as the Act of Building up forms in space. Control and Chaos sit on the same tight bench. The Painter moves from one set of circumstances to the other. Not unlike a...
Questions from the Studio: A Conversation with Young Huh

Questions from the Studio: A Conversation with Young Huh

I was lucky enough to get some time to speak with the very busy designer Young Huh, recently named one of Vogue’s Young Interior Designers on the Rise in 2015, about the design process, seeing decor through the eyes of her clients and her dream of a getaway cabin in the woods.   Gary Komarin: What got you interested in design? Was it always in your blood? Young Huh: I suppose the love was always there. When I was a small child, all play involved house and home whether it was building little dioramas in shoeboxes or building “log cabins” with sticks in the woods. It wasn’t until after I had completed law school that I realized that I needed to have a creative career and then changed direction. Gary Komarin: If you had a perfect client, how would you describe that client? Young Huh: The perfect client knows what she wants and then lets me do it. Gary Komarin: As you do design projects on television, as well as books, how would you compare the two experiences? Does one feed or ‘speak’ to the other, or is it in apples and grapes comparison? Young Huh: On television, you see space and you move through space whereas in print, you only see the two dimensional image. This affects how you style something to look good on television versus print. For print, you really have to move everything for particular camera angles, whereas I think you can relax more for TV because you aren’t confined to one shot. Gary Komarin: What do you do with a client who likes your...
Questions from the Studio: A Conversation with Harry Moses

Questions from the Studio: A Conversation with Harry Moses

I connected with documentary filmmaker Harry Moses recently, here are some excerpts from our conversation about producing the television show 60 Minutes, the importance of editing in documentary films and why he continues to make documentaries. Gary Komarin: What brought you to 60 Minutes? Harry Moses: I had produced a film for Motorola on the Family Crisis Intervention Unit of the Oakland, CA police department. I screened the film for Don Hewitt, the executive producer of 60 Minutes, who ran it and later hired me, with a huge assist from Mike Wallace, whom I’d never met but who liked my work. Mike became my mentor and was a father figure to me, but that’s another story. Gary Komarin: What qualities does a top producer of a news show need to produce the most excellent programs? Harry Moses: Curiosity. Creativity. Determination. Critical acumen. Not yielding to one’s own biases. Gary Komarin: Were you involved in the editing process of 60 Minutes segments? Harry Moses: Editing is where every film is made, particularly documentaries, where there is no script to follow. I was and am totally involved in the editing, sometimes going through 15 cuts of a story before I show it to anyone else. Gary Komarin: What How did growing up in New York City prepare you, if it did, for your work as a producer?  Harry Moses: New York City has more energy and more vitality per square inch than any other place I’ve been. If my youth was spent on a farm in rural Kansas, I doubt I’d be doing what I’m doing. Gary Komarin: You did a very...

Sex Sells and Sex Sells in Contemporary Art

It is no great secret that sex sells in advertising and has been doing this quite well for some time now.  A great many products from cars to clothing to perfumes to hair conditioners and even to food products — where sauces are slowly dripped into place and icings on cakes are licked with eager tongues — all use sex to help sell the product at hand. Sex also sells in Contemporary Art. Not only Contemporary Art, but art of the past several thousand years. Certainly images of loosely clad women in the Japanese and Indian and Chinese Silk drawings engaging in sexual acts illustrates that sex was on the mind of our ancient forebears perhaps as much if not more than in the present time frame. African sculpture, which is tribal and primitive and quite beautiful in its elemental simplicity, done since the time of Christ (and made for ceremonial  and tribal reasons and not for the art market which did not exist at that time), is chock full of phallic attachments. It is often humorous to me in its directness and simplicity. A standing figure will have a phallus longer than the individual is tall. Sex sells is evident in contemporary art More recently Courbet, the great French painter of the 19th century, created an infamous portrait of a woman who is nearly without clothes lounging on a divan, to the delight of the onlookers and the collector who finally bought the piece. It was exhibited privately for a number of years because of its saucy nature. De Kooning, the great Dutch painter of the last century, became...