Saturday, November 15, 2014

Contemporary Art (pt. 3)

Like Modern Art, contemporary art is comprised of many different facets or subgenres.  (This is another quality which makes contemporary artistic movements tricky to pinpoint; if everyone painted the same thing—zombies, for instance—we might more easily call this the Zombie Era…which would be totally nuts!  …But not everyone paints the same way; in fact, our contemporary age is probably one of the most diverse periods for Western art history.)  Many of these styles are continuations of previous genres we've already looked at.  Hard-Edge painting, for example, is a phenomenon which has carried over into art of the recent decades.
In the late 1960s, Frank Stella created some of the most distinct works of Hard-Edge art, such as this painting, Lac La Ronge IV, which shows an assortment of precise shapes in various colors.
Similar to the Color Field artwork of Richard Diebenkorn, Stella's painting is merely a creation of shapes.  Its white, defining lines and intense colors create a vivid, visual rhythm and harmony outside of the realm of subject matter.  It is similar to an abstract piece, but the shapes are so distinct that our focus becomes drawn over to them.  This work is about color, form, and the exactitude of demarcation between the two.  Hard-Edge painters usually place importance on the crisp, precise edges of the shapes in their paintings.  These works contain smooth surfaces, sharp edges, pure colors, and simple geometric shapes.  Again, it is what art is most fundamentally about, and these types of artists sought to bring that out in new ways.  Later in his career, in the '90s, Frank Stella turned to sculpture and there found a medium even more conducive to expressing the stylistic approach of Hard-Edge art.

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