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Op Art

Op art, short for Optical Art, consists of works that feature optical effects especially optical illusions. For instance, some of the paintings of Bridget Riley convey a sense of motion despite being static, and some of her other pieces give the illusion of color despite being done in only black and white. Other terms for this genre are geometric abstraction, hard-edge abstraction, retinal art and perceptual abstraction. The terms geometric and hard-edge abstraction refer firstly that the works are abstract (as opposed to representational), and secondly geometric, regular, mathematical (as opposed to organic). The terms retinal art and perceptual abstraction refer to the viewer’s response to the work.

The term “Op Art” was coined by the sculptor George Rickey in 1964 during a conversation with two Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) curators, William Seitz and Peter Selz. The term first appeared in print in an article in Time magazine in October of the same year. The genre’s emphasis on vibrant color and pattern clearly found its way into the design and fashion of the 1960’s. As an identified, pure art movement, Op Art was short-lived – its pinnacle occuring in 1965 with MoMA’s exhibition entitled The Responsive Eye. On the other hand, works by Victor Vasarely dating from the 1930’s and by John McHale in the 1950’s have characteristics in common with Op Art.

A predecessor of Op Art is found in some artists working in the Bauhaus movement. The Bauhaus was primarily a school, founded by the architect Walter Gropius, which existed in Germany between the World War I and World War II. The school stressed the connection between art and craft as well as that between function and design. A sequence of instructors, including Johannes Itten, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Josef Albers developed analytical exercises for studying shape and color that often became works in their own right. When the Nazi regime closed the school in 1933, some of the instructors, most notably Anni and Josef Albers, emmigrated to the United States and taught there, influencing generations of U.S. artists.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Op_art and ArtSpeak by Robert Atkins.

Hard Edge Prints

“Abstract Classicist painting is hard-edged painting. Forms are finite, flat, rimmed by a hard, clean edge. These forms are not intended to evoke in the spectator any recollections of specific shapes he may have encountered in some other connection. They are autonomous shapes, sufficient unto themselves as shapes.” Jules Langsner Synopsis Hard-edge painting is a tendency in late 1950s and 1960s art that is closely related to Post-painterly abstraction and color field painting. It describes an abstract style that combines the clear composition of geometric abstraction with the intense color and bold, unitary forms of color field painting. Although it was first identified with Californian artists, today the phrase is used to describe one of the most distinctive tendencies in abstract painting throughout the United States in the 1960s. Key Points Hard-edge abstraction was part of a general tendency to move away from the expressive qualities of gestural abstraction. Many painters also sought to avoid the shallow, post-Cubist space of Willem de Kooning’s work, and instead adopted the open fields of color seen in the work of Barnett Newman. Hard-edge painting is known for its economy of form, fullness of color, impersonal execution, and smooth surface planes. The term “hard-edge abstraction” was devised by Californian art critic Jules Langsner, and was initially intended to title a 1959 exhibition that included four West Coast artists – Karl Benjamin, John McLaughlin, Frederick Hammersley and Lorser Feitelson. Although, later, the style was often referred to as “California hard-edge,” and these four artists became synonymous with the movement, Langsner eventually decided to title the show Four Abstract Classicists (1959), as he felt that the style marked a classical turn away from the romanticism of Abstract Expressionism. http://www.theartstory.org/movement-hard-edge-painting.htm

Works created by Tyree Guyton at the Tom Blaess Print Shop and Gallery

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Tom Blaess first visited the Heidelberg Project with Tyree and together they walked the sight so that Tom could get a feel for the area.  Tom wanted to help Tyree create a new technique that could capture the essence of Tyree’s work on Heidelberg Street

Tom visited Heidelberg on his own with a high end digital camera to find specific textures and details in the weathered objects of the Heidelberg Project that could be later used as printed background matrixes.

While in Bern and prior to Tyree’s arrival in Tom sorted through the photos and filtered out recognizable objects and printed them with a Epson pigment printer on non coated paper, Rives B.F.K. 250 gm2, a paper that is traditionally used for lithography and etching.

When Tyree arrived in Bern and saw what Tom had done, he responded enthusiastically and recognized within the textured backgrounds certain elements and feelings he associated with the Heidelberg Project.

During the three week collaboration Tom presented Tyree with different backgrounds, bebop jazz and Tyree says the images began to speak to him and began a process to bring them to the paper.

Tyree started by making a tusche drawing with a Chinese brush directly on the background. Sometimes it was in grey, sometimes in red, other times in blue. He used a hair dryer to dry the tusche, returned to his work place and then placed a piece of clear plexi-glass over the image. He then traced on the plexi-glass with a black magic marker the specific shapes and had Tom to roll flat colors in oil base litho inks that would correspond to the image that he had outlined with the tusche drawing.

Tom would go over to the large table, turn the plexi-glass over (it reverses itself when printed on a hand press) and roll the rough shapes.

Using a rag or Q tips Tyree would look through the plexi-glass, see the magic marker line that indicates the contour of the image, and clean with a rag the excess ink outside the lines. Tyree would hand Tom the finished plate and Tom would place it correctly on the background image, and it would then be printed directly on an etching press with felt blankets.

If a second or third or fourth printing was necessary, new ink was rolled on the plexi-glass, edges cleaned, and printed onto the previous layers.  After the printing process was completed, Tyre would hand-paint over the printed image details such as white lettering with acrylic paint or draw lines with oil pastels.

Each image is one of a kind, the printed image is unique, but the background matrix is repeatable, which by definition is a mono  print.

Tom Blaess says that he has been making mixed media mono prints for several years, but never with photographic textured backgrounds so this process was also a first for him.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]

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About CoBrA : 50 Years of Abstraction

“In the years immediately after WWII, the ideals and politics of Europe were fragmented and unstable. Before the war Paris had been regarded as the artistic capital of the world. However with the new balance of power and the increased presence of North America in Europe many artists felt blocked from the Paris they once knew and sought instead for an alternative haven for an increasingly modern art movement that was emerging.   This movement became known as CoBrA (an acronym, composed of the first letters of the capital cities Copenhagen Brussels, and Amsterdam) and existed between 1948 and 1951. Despite the short period of its existence, CoBrA has been noted by art historians and in wide circles as the most important event m the history of modem European art, after the Second World War. For it was within Denmark, Holland and Belgium that artists found refuge and acceptance for their emerging and often times experimental aesthetic. The fundamental CoBrA artists were Asper Join, Christian Dotremont, Joseph Noiret, Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille and Walasse Ting. Those individuals were active in broad areas of culture, and insisted that the ideas and philosophy of CobrA should be received as an active part of a newly shaped post war modern society. In addition to easel and canvas works, many CoBrA artists published poems, books and articles relating to subjects of art theory, archeology, philosophy and some Marxist theories of economics. This activist attitude reflected CoBrA’s basic idea of responsibility, founded on existential ideals of the time. Accordingly, the responsibility of the artist was to contribute to all aspects of life-.–and still remain an artist—not a politician, scientist or historian. Above all else, the CoBrA artists insisted on promoting the importance of the artistic way of experiencing life. The CoBrA style or attitude can be described as spontaneous, instinctive~ wild, vital, colorful and during the time that it flourished, anti-aesthetic, provocative and experimental. CoBrA was inspired by primitive art, children’s drawings, folk art and mythology. The CoBrA attitude rejected Surrealism as a movement and rigorously eschewed intellectual approaches to art. It also made a conscious departure from a developing line of American movements such as Pop Art, Minimalism and Conceptual. CoBrA works glorified the artist’s instinct and often emphasized dramatic line, color surfaces, rhythms in a space, and balances and movements in a piece of sculpture. Now fifty years after the emergence of the CoBrA movement, there is a marked reawakening of interest for these works amongst art historians, museums and private collectors alike. True to the spirit of the avant-garde, the CoBrA movement was revolutionary and identified with modem ideas regarding self-realization and humanity. The movement suggested an important connection between the rational and irrational, abstract and figurative and between art and nature. Many members of the CoBrA group continued along individual paths after the movement dissolved in 1951 and have since garnered international acclaim. The CoBrA influence on contemporary art is evident today as artists such as Walasse Ting continue to thrive and produce both paintings and poetry that reflect the original ideals of the CoBrA group as well as a dynamic contemporary sensibility.