Friday, January 23, 2015

organic, labour intensive, energetic marks

no. IZ  detail  Yayoi Kusama  

No. IZ  Yayoi Kusama  (Japanese born 1929)  oil on canvas 1960 
The First Part of the Return From Parnassus  detail  Cy Twombly

The First Part of the Return From Parnassus  Cy Twombly (American 1928-2011) oil, coloured pencil, lead pencil, wax crayon on canvas,   1961

Vast Ocean  Gunther Uecker (German born 1930) paint and nails on canvas over wood  1964

Vast Ocean Gunther Uecker detail
The three artworks in this post are just a taste of what I was able to see in Chicago earlier this week, selected because of their simple yet lively marks.

The three artists who made them were all born within two years of each other. They were toddlers at the same time but lived in different countries.  They turned twelve during WW II.  When they were 30, they made paintings like these that fifty years later remain relevant.  

Human experience, imagination, risk.  Our connections.

Ned and I visited our daughter this week.  She is studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and these pieces are part of the collection of the Art Institute's gallery.   I'm glad I was able to experience them face to face.


  1. I don't understand.

  2. I think that these paintings are very much like my own stitching, Margaret.
    The japanese artist and the german artist use repetition and texture in much the same way - it's hard work to cover an area with the same mark, yet because the hand has done these marks, they are not the same. each is unique.

    I love the way that they are not in a grid - that they are organic yet repetitive. Like nature. I relate to these marks. I think many of us do.

    As for Cy Twombly, I respond to his marks as well because they seem to reach into himself and take a chance that they will be just the right one. He is very brave in placing things we recognize (like numbers and letters) into the messy painted areas. He is brave also because so much empty space is left - again I am reminded of what it is like to be in nature, and that may be why I like his work.

    I think that looking at paintings affirms my ideas and I am sharing them with you because I am showing you what it is like to be me. What I respond to.

    We are the same - painters or stitchers. I don't see a difference and never have.


  3. Thanks for the introduction to the work of Guenther Uecker. I found a lovely collection of his works on paper here

  4. jilloy10:27 pm

    Thank you Judy. I appreciate the insights.

  5. I so love the first and last works ,number 2 Im not so sure .What I do get with Cy's work is the play between the positive and negative spaces.
    I obviously need to see them all for myself......
    Big sigh day .....

  6. the scale of Cy Twombly's work is something that you can't see here. His painting is 3 x as large as Guenther Uecker's, and 5 x as large as Yayoi Kasuma's.

    When you are in front of a painting where each gesture takes one's whole body, and there is so much emptiness, it's like being on a hill top.

  7. What a coincidence, Judy. I showed this painting of Cy Twombly, which I have always loved, to my students a couple o days ago, and I was amazed because they didn't like it at all. In fact, they didn't understand it. We will have a class to talk about it deeply and I am sure your words will be useful for me.

  8. I re-visited this post today after reading a new book about quilting called Unconventional and Unexpected, American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000. Fantastic quilts, but frustrating comments by the author, who compared all the quilts to works by famous (male) painters, as if that was what validated them. I much prefer your description of the paintings you show here, using the language of expression as opposed to imitation. Our desire to create, whether as painters or stitchers, comes from the same place.


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx