Mid-Century Geometric Abstraction

Fair and Loathing: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times 
Fair and Loathing: Coincidences, Trends and a Coupla WTFs
Fair and Loathing: Big Paintings
Fair and Loathing: Art? Not Art?
Fair and Loathing: Small and Mid-Size Paintings

Alejandro Puente, 1965, at Henrique Faria Fine Art, New York and Buenos Aires; ABMB

One of the great things about the fairs, particularly Art Basel Miami Beach, is the amount of mid-century abstract painting that is shown, much of it geometric. (I'm stretching "mid century" to mean an almost five-decade span between about 1930-1975.) Some galleries, like Joan Washburn, can be counted on to show a booth full of wonderful work by painters such as Myron Stout and Ilya Bolotowsky. Others galleries created small solo exhibitions, called Kabinetts, within their booths; Judith Rothschild was the subject of a Kabinett at Valerie Carberry Gallery.

Judith Rothschild, Untitled, ca. 1948, at Valerie Carberry Gallery, Chicago; ABMB

I wish I could tell you that I have a lot of women to show you in this post, but no. If the contemporary art world is still reluctant to embrace women artists, it was far worse back then. Rothschild, Fanny Sanin and Lygia Clark are the women artists whose work I saw. (There might have been more, and if you saw some, please use the Comments section to tell us who, what and where.)

The Latin American galleries can be counted on to show some consistently fine work, and for an artist like myself who never got an integrated art history in art school, these galleries offer a historical experience. You can pooh-pooh the fairs all you want, but for me the opportunity to see so much mid-Century Latin American abstraction is one of the highlights in Miami.  And Josef Albers (Albers!) was one of the great revelations this time around. Go figure. Here's some of what I saw.

Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, Compositon No. 212, 1959-60, at Annely Juda Fine Art, London; ABMB

Ilya Bolotowsky, Somber Key, 1949, at Joan Washburn Gallery, New York City; ABMB

Sandu Darie, Untitled, 1950s, at Tresart, Coral Gables, Florida; Art Miami

Paul Kelpe, Composition, 1927, at Valerie Carberry Gallery, Chicago; ABMB

Juan MelĂ©, Pintura, 1946-75, at Galeria Guillermo de Osma, Madrid; ABMB

Myron Stout, Untitled, 1950, at Joan Washburn Gallery, New York City; ABMB

Burgoyne Diller, First Theme #246, c. 1940, at Valerie Carberry Gallery, Chicago, ABMB
Detail below

Cesar Paternosto at Galeria Guillermo de Osma, Madrid; ABMB

Judith Rothschild in the Kabinett devoted to her work, at Valerie Carberry Gallery
Above, below, and below that we're panning around the space from left to right. Most of the work, which includes fluid geometric abstraction, some with cubist overtones, is from the 1940s

Above: The two large works above are shown in closer views below

Judith Rothschild, Curious Personnage, 1947

Judith Rothschild, Untitled, c. 1948
Detail below with pentimenti

Fanny Sanin, 1978, at Henrique Faria Fine Art, New York and Buenos Aires; ABMB

Mary Martin, mixed media works, 1962, each app. 20 x 20 inches, at DAN Galeria, Sao Paolo

Victor Pasmore,  Abstract in Black, White, Maroon and Indigo, 1963; at DAN Galeria; ABMB

Lygia Clark sculpture and painting, "decade of 1960," according to the gallery description, also at DAN Galeria

Norman Dilworth,Untitled,  1966, also at DAN Galeria
(This venue is a trove of fabulous mid-century abstraction from throughout the Americas; I look for it every year)

Ralston Crawford, shown above and in an installation of his works, at Menconi + Schoelkopf, New York City; ABMB

Leon Polk Smith, Untitled, 1970, at Valerie Carberry Gallery, Chicago; ABMB

More Leon Polk Smith, ca. 1948, at Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts; Art Miami (I think)

Untitled (Abstraction in Blue), 1948
Below: Torch (Abstraction in Red), 1948

Leon Polk Smith,  Black, Green, 1957, again at Valerie Carberry, Chicago; ABMB

Stuart Davis, Study for Pochade #2, 1958, at at Hirschl & Adler Modern, New York City; ABMB
View below for scale

Installation of small works at Galeria Guillermo de Osma, Madrid; ABMB
Closer views of two works below

Above: Rubem Ludolf, Geometria,  1965
Below: Hermelindo Fiaminghi, Composicion, 1959

As we continue around the installation at Guillermo de Osma, take a look at the green and yellow painting on the far right. Can you identify the artist?

Now can you identify the artist?
Josef Albers, above, Related A, 1937

Below: A  more conventionally recognizable Albers, 1962,  at Jorge Mara-La Ruche,  Buenos Aires; ABMB

Another surprising aspect of Albers's work in his Homage to the Square series: shades of gray and larger scale. Here, Half Past, 1966, oil on masonite, 48 x 48 inches, at Waddington Custot Galleries, Lonodon; ABMB

Below: more gray from Albers, this time in a woodcut
Astatic, 1944, woodcut from plywood, 13.25 x 9 inches, at Hirschl & Adler, New York City; ABMB

This latter work leads us to the next post, in which I'll show some of the many paintings I saw in black and white throughout the fairs. I'll wrap up with a look at some of my faves.


Nancy Natale said...

This post is my fave - so far. That Leon Polk Smith pair from 1948 in blue and red are really fabulous. I have never heard of him before but now I'll have to look him up. Thanks for all your looking and refining, Joanne. Your discoveries are inspiring.

Roberta said...

Thank you for opening my eyes to some artists I had never heard of or had heard of but was not familiar with their work. I am beginning to become obsessed with mid century modern geometrics.

Chris H. said...

Nice!!! Beautiful examples of mid-century abstraction-Rothschild rocks!