Accident or Art?
When a painting is a single color, viewers are left to wonder if it was intentional or if the artist maybe added a little to much of that shade and, well, just made do with what s/he had. Monochromatic paintings are very popular in contemporary art, but most people don’t see what is so great about slathering a single color onto a canvas, or how that painting ended up in a museum rather than the dumpster.
Barnett Newman’s abstract expressionism, for example, does not impress some people. His bold use of color is lost on some who think that anyone could do what he did, like spreading strawberry jam on a slice of bread. Vibrant color, a minimalist style and regular use of ‘zips’, the line used to separate his paintings, define the major characteristics of Newman’s work. Some of his work is related to life experiences or religion as can be inferred from titles, but most is primarily viewed as pure abstraction. I think it would be hard to deny his skill, however. After all, could you keep a perfectly straight thin line of white amongst a sea of red?
Barnett Newman, Be I (Second Version), 1970, the Detroit Institute of Arts
Bosco Sodi’s work is an exception to the distaste of monochromatic contemporary art. The scale of his work alone makes it impressive to gallery and museum visitors. Plus, his ‘paintings’ are 3 dimensional rather than flat paint on canvas. He uses only natural pigments along with organic materials such as sawdust and wood pulp to create a topographical story which takes days to complete. Once work has begun, Sodi refrains from breaks of any sort focusing directly on slatering materials on in thick layers to make an intricate surface of rich colors and textures. When complete, the painting cracks like dry earth, showing its organic properties.
Bosco Sodi, Making of Organic Blue, www.boscosodi.com
Bosco Sodi, Installation View at the Bronx Museum
I suppose contemporary art appreciation has not evolved at such a pace that artists can expect instant accolades for minimalist work. Greater acceptance is offered to those which can reach an audience on a multi-sensory level. That’s not to say that viewers will not learn to appreciate the skill and difficulty that goes into creating any piece of art, even those that seem so simple that it may have happened on accident.