Posted in Art and Artists, Research & Reflection

In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting!

Back in April this course was suggested on one of the OCA groups:, and so I signed up for it. The idea of the course is a set of videos and material about the New York School of art, which includes approaches of seven New York School artists, including Willem de Kooning, Yayoi Kusama, Agnes Martin, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, and Mark Rothko. I thought of this as an opportunity to learn to appreciate these artists more clearly. In some ways it is working.

The course has introductory material about painting in general, which is quite enlightening in itself. I haven’t really tried painting in anything but a very basic fashion, and so this “starter for 10” information is new to me. It has then gone onto Barnett Newman (, whose mature work consists of “zips” of colour. Basically, a layer of paint is put down. Then masking tape is used in various ways to create coloured stripes on the canvas – which are the zips. The course has video discussions of some of his art works, and its relationship with Hans Hoffman’s ( colour theory work. That was interesting in and of itself.

In terms of what I have learnt, however, there is details of the mechanics of painting and its challenges. I am also learning about particular artists and at least some appreciation of why their work might have been acclaimed. Emperor’s New clothes and all that. The experience is also, however, causing me to reflect on the whole concept of the process of being an artist, and the concept of “mature style”, which seems to be closely related to “voice” and “artistic style”. More on this to come…

Note: Featured image is from here Wikimedia, attribution:

Non-free media data

Onement 1, 1948, by Barnett Newman. Oil on canvas and oil on masking tape on canvas.


4 thoughts on “In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting!

  1. I stumbled across the In the Studio videos when I was researching Agnes Martin – it was really fascinating! I have no interest in pursuing painting as an activity myself, so I am quite an ignoramus about materials etc and this was really helpful in shedding light on the specific processes which create certain effects and hence on the artist’s particular choices.


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