The current Al Held exhibit, at Cheim & Read, Alphabet Paintings, has been getting a lot of coverage and is, understandably, a favorite among painters.
In this post I wanted to focus on an aspect of the work that was particularly meaningful to me - the edges of the canvas where they wrap around the stretchers. These random details are important to me for a couple of reasons. First of all, the haphazard smudges and smears emphasize the painterliness of these humongous works. This was my first look at these paintings "in the flesh" and I was surprised at the extent to which the artist's hand was evident. The sides of the canvas, along with brush marks, and the often thick, clotted, and revised surfaces force the paintings to inhabit a no - man's land between minimal, hard edged, conceptually driven work and a more improvazational approach most often associated with the New York School that brings process to the fore.
Secondly, the marked up edges go a long way to assert the paintings as objects. The spattered stretchers along with the shear size of the work, highlight a bold physicality that cause the paintings to invade and take possession of the viewer's space.
" I want to give abstract expressionism structure."
"I just don't want to express myself, I want to say something."
Al Held: Alphabet Paintings
February 28 - April 20, 2013
547 W 25th Street
New York, NY