A look at a Joan Brown painting from 1975 that was featured in SFMoMA's 2016 exhibition of Northern California artists.
Remember that thing where I said that Pop Art, and Thiebaud in specific, was about the staged nature of th eworld and capturing that in paint? Yeah, that's all about Flatland River, now on display at SFMoMA!
Sam Francis is an artist in the later Abstract Expressionist vein. He was also th eman whose expressionism wasfar more colorful than Rothko, Pollock, or their ilk. In fact, Francis is more Mitchell, Abbott, Louis, or Frankenthaler than those first 'rounders. The works at SFMoMA are from 1978 and 1980, and they use the structural grid form, but then layers more paint, thin stains of acrylic across the canvas. It is more contained than many AbExers, almost Clyfford Still-esque, but it's color, my ghod the colours!
The fact is his palette here is undeniably of the 1980s. It'/s not just the pastel sensation of a lot of his work, but the abutting of teals and reds, yellows and hot blues. It is the feeling of the 1980s, defined before the decade actually started. These works would help define what the 1980s would look like, moving beyond the fine arts space into graphic design, fashion, MTV.
Of all the Morris Louis works out there, this one is the most powerful, and frankly, terrifying. It is an Ambi, instead of his allowing the thinned paint to slide down in one direction, here it goes in two directions towards the centre, but that is not what's the scary thing here. The scary thing is that the outermost coating is black, as if they are teeth closing, holding us in the mouth, preparing to chew us to oblivion.
I feel as if the colours, the blues, yellows, red, greens, they are living on the outside, as if they were being used to draw us towards them, to allow us to be chomped upon. It is a terrifying work, and certainly my favorite Louis work in any museum.
Christopher J Garcia - Curator, Fan Writer, Podcaster, and a guy who just loves art.