Like Us!

Worth Watching
  • Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
    Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
    A fascinating and highly entertaining look at one of the most important families of the Renaissance era--the Medici.
  • Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)
    Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)

    “Sister Wendy Beckett has transformed public appreciation of art through her astonishing knowledge, insight and passion for painting and painters.” This set includes Sister Wendy's Story of Painting, Sister Wendy's Odyssey, and Sister Wendy's Grand Tour. Simultaneously delightful and scholarly--this is a must have for anyone interested in art history.

  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
    Exit Through the Gift Shop
    When British stencil artist Banksy traveled to Los Angeles to work, he came across obscure French filmmaker Thierry Guetta and his badly organized collection of videotapes involving the activities of graffiti artists. Inspired, Banksy assembled them with new footage to create this talked-about documentary, and the result is a mind-boggling and odd film (so strange as to be thought a hoax by some) about outsider artists and the definition of art itself.
  • The Impressionists
    The Impressionists
    A dramatization of the Impressionist movement as seen through the eyes of Claude Monet. Highly entertaining and informative.
  • The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
    The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
    A very personal and revealing look at the personalities that created Impressionism.

Entries in Post-Modernism (85)


Frank Stella: Dynamism, Tactility, and Scale

Frank Stella - Chodorow II - 1971 - Felt, paper and canvas collage on canvas - overall: 274.4 x 269.3 cm (108 1/16 x 106 in.) - National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.Focusing on the formal elements of art-making, Frank Stella (born 1936) has created complicated works that embody dynamism, tactility, and scale. Though technically part of the Second Generation of abstract expressionists, Stella dramatically departed from that tradition in the late 1950s, becoming a leader and practitioner of what would become Minimalism. He became known for his irregularly shaped works and large-scale multimedia reliefs. 

Stella studied painting at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and history at Princeton University (B.A., 1958). He gained recognition for his art when he was still in his mid-20s, and has enjoyed a long and productive career. MoMA and the Whitney, in New York, have both held retrospectives of his work, and one of his freestanding public sculptures is installed in front of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. 

To learn more about the artists featured on What About Art? this week, register HERE for Jill Kiefer’s Post-Modern Art class, beginning shortly at the Bethany Arts Community in Ossining, New York.


Clyfford Still: A Radical Abstract Style

IMAGE 1 STILL: Clyfford Still - Untitled - 1946 - Oil on canvas - 62 x 44 5/8 in. (157.5 x 113.3 cm) - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.Abstract Expressionist Clyfford Still (1904-1980) is not the most well know of the “New York School” of artists. But he was the first to break through to a new and radically abstract style devoid of obvious subject matter. Still used fields of color to explore dramatic conflicts between humans and nature taking place on a monumental scale.“

A graduate of Spokane University in Washington, Still’s style evolved from a type of regionalism to an abstract presentation of landscape. He taught at Washington State University for eight years, then moved to California, where he worked in the shipbuilding and aircraft industries, during the war years. He then taught at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, from 1943-45, followed by a year in New York. Moving to California, Still taught at the San Francisco Art Institute until 1950. He lived for awhile in New York, and ultimately settled on a 22-acre farm in Maryland, where he remained until his death.

Still's overriding theme is the existential struggle of the human spirit against the forces of nature, a notion that finds expression in the vertical forms that reach defiantly through the majority of his compositions.” His work influenced many artists, including Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman, as well as other color-field painters, all discussed elsewhere on What About Art?

In his will, Still stipulated that the remainder of his estate (more than 2,000 works) would be available to the public in any American city that devoted a museum exclusively to his art. The city of Denver eventually established the Clyfford Still Museum. It opened in 2011, more than thirty years after Still’s death.


Giacometti: An Existentialist 

Alberto Giacometti - Three Men Walking - 1949 - Bronze - 30 1/8 x 13 x 12 3/4 in. (76.5 x 33 x 32.4 cm) - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkSwiss artist Alberto Giacometti  (1901-1966) had a remarkable career that traced the shifting enthusiasms of European art before and after the Second World War. As a Surrealist in the 1930s, he devised innovative sculptural forms, sometimes reminiscent of toys and games. As an Existentialist after the war, he led the way in creating a style that summed up the philosophy's interests in perception, alienation and anxiety.

In the late 1930s, Giacometti abandoned both abstraction and Surrealism, becoming more interested in how to represent the human figure in a convincing illusion of real space. He wanted to depict figures in such a way as to communicate a perceptual sense of spatial distance, so that viewers, might share in the artist's own sense of distance from his subject. The solution he arrived at involved whittling the figures down to the slenderest proportions.

Giacometti’s Surrealist works influenced such sculptors as Henry Moore (discussed elsewhere on What About Art?). His figurative work was instrumental in re-establishing the figure as a viable motif in the post-war period, at a time when abstract art dominated. 

“The rough, eroded, heavily worked surfaces of "Three Men Walking (II)" [featured here] typify his technique. Reduced, as they are, to their very core, these figures evoke lone trees in winter that have lost their foliage. Within this style, Giacometti would rarely deviate from the three themes that preoccupied him—the walking man; the standing, nude woman; and the bust—or all three, combined in various groupings.” (


Brâncuși: Elegance in Simplicity

Constantin Brâncuși - Bird in Space - 1923 - Marble - 56 3/4 x 6 1/2 in. - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkRomanian-French artist Constantin Brâncuși (1876-1957) is often regarded as the most important sculptor of the 20th century. His visionary works of art often exemplify ideal and archetypal representations of their subject matter. Bearing laconic titles such as Fish, Princess X, and Bird in Space, his sculptures are deceptively simple, with their reduced forms aiming to reveal hidden truths.

Unlike the towering figure of Auguste Rodin, for whom Brâncuși briefly assisted early in his career, Brâncuși worked directly with his materials, pioneering the technique of direct carving, rather than working with intermediaries such as plaster or clay models.

“Explaining that ‘[t]he artist should know how to dig out the being that is within matter,’ Brancusi sought to create sculptures that conveyed the true essence of his subjects, be they animals, people, or objects by concentrating on highly simplified forms free from ornamentation. While many regarded his art as abstract, the artist disagreed; he insisted on the representational nature of his works, asserting that they disclosed a fundamental, often concealed, reality.” This is not far removed from Michelangelo’s claim that, “every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” (Several posts about Michelangelo appear on What About Art?)

Whether one regards Brâncuși’s work as abstract or not, there is no question that he was a “pioneering force in modern sculpture, paving the way for many generations of artists.

In the work featured here, the artist focused on the movement of the bird, rather than its physical attributes. And yet, the viewer does “see” a bird there, along with feeling its motion.


Kenneth Noland: The Hard Edge

Kenneth Noland - Graded Exposure - 1967 - Acrylic on canvas - 225.4 x 581.7 cm. (88.7 x 229 in.) - Private Collection (click photo for larger image)American artist Kenneth Noland (1924-2010) was part of the Color Field group of artists that practiced hard-edge abstraction—an approach that combines the crisp geometric abstraction with saturated color and bold, singular forms. Noland was interested in removing all texture, gesture, and emotional content from his paintings.

Inspired by the work of Helen Frankenthaler, Noland used the technique she had developed of staining the canvas with thinned paints, and he positioned his colors in concentric rings and parallels, shaped and proportioned in relation to the shape of the canvas. Consequently, the viewer would look at the canvas as a complete object, rather than looking into it for further depth or meaning.

In the late 1960s, Noland began to produce his Striped paintings. The work featured here measures nearly 19 feet wide. Noland painted his stripes progressively thinner towards the top, as if the image were receding into the distance. The rainbow-like effect of coloring also suggests a horizon that extends beyond the canvas. This visual effect, however, should not be confused with any particular subject matter or context.

Noland’s work embodies influences from Piet Mondrian, Josef Albers, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman—all of whom helped to pave the way for Minimalism and other future movements. (You can also read more about these artists right here on What About Art?)