Thursday, December 27, 2007

Abstracted Divisionism

The dictionary responses for pointillism are quite simple; separating the applied colors into separate dots or strokes and letting the eye mix the colors. But back at that point in time we hadn't made it to Abstraction yet, so the paintings were of realistic, recognizable scenes. Some would say that Division ism and pointillism are one and the same, but I think there is another side to all of this besides the visual mixing of the colors and recognizing of shapes. As we came into abstraction and then the modern era, the reasons for individually separating dots or brush strokes of color changed radically; there were new options, new paths to pursue. In the painting above, "Autumn Leaves Fluttering In The Breeze" 1973, the colors don't visually mix to present a realistic picture, rather they undulate and glow; this is a mental, emotionally charged, romantic picture; a scene from our mind.

As I look at Alma Thomas' paintings it's hard to know what to say about them. Obviously she was following a course, experimenting, searching. But from what I've read, no light was shed on the actual mental process that brought about these works; the stimulation, the where for, or the why. There is a progression though, from purely abstract painting, into color field and then the mosaic-like "pats" of color on an abstract or single tone ground; all the while experimenting with both the colors and the shape compositions. But if you'll notice the dates on these works you'll see that she jumps around a bit here and there. So I'll let you do your own research and come to your own conclusions. One thing is perfectly clear - she achieved an undulating joy in some of her paintings.

The most comprehensive site is the Smithsonian American Art Museum with 29 images of her works and a short biography. Additional images HERE and here. (At the last site, go to pages 4, 5 and 6 and you'll see some lovely abstracts of hers from the 60's.)

Both images are from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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