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Article

Karen Kurczynski

The use of organic abstract form in sculpture evoking the gendered body through an emphasis on process and materials. Lucy Lippard coined the term for an article in Art International which formed the basis for an exhibition at Fischbach Gallery in New York in 1966. Eccentric abstraction signaled the onset of Post-minimalism. The exhibition included Alice Adams (b 1930), Louise Bourgeois, Lindsey Decker (1923–96), Eva Hesse, Gary Kuehn (b 1939), Jean Linder (b 1938), Bruce Nauman, Don Potts (b 1936), Keith Sonnier, and Frank Lincoln Viner (b 1937). Lippard defined eccentric abstraction as an exploration of sensuous experience, evoking intuitively some of the psychological themes explored by Surrealism but without Surrealism’s literary allusions and literal imagery. Instead of Surrealist-inspired assemblage, the accumulation of recognizable objects, eccentric abstraction explored the formal and material properties of nonobjective art. It drew on Minimalist themes of presenting a single, whole, unified form, the emphasis on phenomenological experience to create meaning, and the withdrawal of personal expression in favor of exploration of the material properties of contemporary industrial materials. Unlike in Minimalism, however, the materials favored by these artists, such as felt, latex, vinyl, rubber, or fiberglass, tended to evoke bodily properties such as softness, inflation, and droopiness. This work also drew on Pop art’s irreverence for established artistic methods and experiments with soft sculpture and materials previously considered kitsch or vulgar. Lippard referred to eccentric abstraction as a “non-sculptural style,” closer to abstract painting than to sculpture in part because of its active investigation of color, but producing three-dimensional objects which broke down the form–content dichotomy....

Article

Harry Rand

[Dambrowsky, Ivan]

(b Kiev, 1881/6; d London, 1961).

Polish theorist and painter, active in the USA. Though few immigrants maintained ties to Europe as strong as John Graham’s, his titanic effect upon the direction and development of American art surpassed that of many critics and influential artists—an unlikely reality (because of his improbable bearing and background), acknowledged by his artistic disciples and chronicled in fact.

His family were minor Polish aristocrats long resident in Russia. He studied law at the University of Kiev then became a Tsarist cavalry officer to fight the Revolution. After being captured by the Bolsheviks, he escaped to western Europe and by 1920 had arrived in the USA. He changed his name, believing that Graham looked similar to the Cyrillic orthography of Dambrowsky. In New York Graham studied in 1921 under John Sloan at the Art Students League while maintaining contacts with Russian artists including Mikhail Larionov and David Burlyuk. Active as an artist in the 1920s, he corresponded with the American collector Duncan Phillips, who acquired several of his paintings. Graham was acquainted with Picasso (an influence he eventually rejected but not before confusing the situation by claiming they were born in the same year, thus forever muddying the facts of his life) and in the late 1920s had one-man exhibitions in both the USA and Paris. In New York he became prominent as the principal link between modernist artists in New York and Paris. In ...

Article

Doug Singsen

Term used to describe the work of artists who utilized the innovations of Minimalism, but who also critiqued many aspects of Minimalist theory and practice. The term was coined in 1971 by the art critic Robert Pincus-Witten to describe a major current in American art from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s that included artists associated with Process art, Conceptual art, earth art (see Land art), Body art, and Performance art. Because of Post-minimalism’s diversity, it is best understood as a period or tendency rather than a style or movement. Pincus-Witten compared Post-minimalism to Post-Impressionism in that both are used to describe widely differing styles that developed from a common root (Minimalism and Impressionism, respectively).

Minimalist innovations adopted by Post-minimalists include serial composition; the use of industrial materials and professional fabrication; a blurring of the boundary between painting and sculpture; and the use of the artwork to shape the viewer’s spatial environment. However, Post-minimalists criticized the autonomy, object-centeredness, aggressive spatial presence, exclusion of reference to the body, and implicit masculinity of Minimalist art. Consequently, Post-minimalists adopted a de-centered, flexible, open structure in their work; elevated the process of creation over its end result; employed techniques and materials that incorporated contingency and ephemerality; used the artist’s body and the natural and built environment as raw materials; and introduced signifiers of femininity into their work....