MoMA. Young, Michael, The Museum of Modern Art. Author. Date. Publisher. - PDF

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Projects : Michael Young : the Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 23- September 7, 1987 Author Young, Michael, Date 1987 Publisher The Museum of Modern Art Exhibition URL
Projects : Michael Young : the Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 23- September 7, 1987 Author Young, Michael, Date 1987 Publisher The Museum of Modern Art Exhibition URL The Museum of Modern Art's exhibition history from our founding in 1929 to the present is available online. It includes exhibition catalogues, primary documents, installation views, and an index of participating artists. MoMA 2016 The Museum of Modern Art The Museum of Modern Art New York July 23-September 7, 1987 CD Z =3 O ID 03 _c u E V) u Q) 0 a Atopia Polymer emulsion, sand, synthetic polymer paint, and polyester resin on canvas, 27 x 27 (68.6 x 68.6 cm). Collection Rebecca Donelson, Chicago f[rc H$8 projects Designed to present recent work by contemporary artists, the new projects series has been based on the Museum's original projects exhibitions, which were held from 1971 to The artists presented are chosen by the members of all the Museum's curatorial depart ments in a process involving an active dialogue and close critical scrutiny of the visual arts. The projects series is made possible by generous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lannan Foundation, and J. P. Morgan & Co. Incorporated. michael young The seventy-five-year history of geo metric abstract painting can be divided into two periods, separated by the advent of Abstract Expressionism. In the earlier, relational period, the focus was on the ways in which geometric forms related to one another within the picture plane. In the later, nonrelational period, the issue became one of holistic unity in a picture. Michael Young's small, square paintings with cross or circle forms fall within the second category. We perceive each paint ing's design and construction as one unified whole. In this work, the picture plane does not contain the shapes; if anything, the shapes seem to generate the picture plane. The forms in these paintings, either concentric circles or cross shapes, occupy nearly the en tire canvas. The rationality of their design and their small size cause these works to be perceived as perfect geo metric units. The totality of each work is readily appar ent: we note the painting's center and that equidistant from it on four sides the object stops and the world be gins. The paintings' square format adds to this effect. Unlike rectangular pictures, which tend to relate com fortably to the rectangular walls on which they are hung, these small squares maintain a separation from their sup port. The construction of these works further reinforces our perception of them as worlds unto themselves. Their projection from the wall is accentuated by the absence of picture frames; their final, polyester-resin glazing homogenizes and unifies their surfaces. The use of color in these paintings is as clear, deliberate, and easily perceptible as is their general design. In each work, the ground and largest portion of the central figure are painted in neutral earth colors. In fact, to achieve the exact colors and tonalities desired, the artist sifts sand and baked soil of varying hues and coarseness onto canvas coated with polymer emulsion. Young chooses the other extreme in color for certain lin ear elements, such as the vertical bars in the cross paint ings and some of the rings in the circle paintings. The bright, fluorescent colors used here resemble those of flashy, mass-produced consumer products, such as plastic recreational goods and costume jewelry. The combina tion of these two kinds of color, which have very differ ent associations and are optically at odds, is jarring: neutral, light-absorbent browns are pierced by zones of brilliant, extremely light-reflective color. Clearly, though, color is not used in an illusionary way. To the contrary, the use of color defeats an attempt to read the forms as references to things that exist in the world we know. These single-form painting types the concentric-circle and cross paintings have very different effects. The forms in the circle paintings seem to inch toward us. They separate completely from the ground, causing it to read as a neutral backboard in front of which the circles are suspended. This thrust forward results from the combination of the perspectival effect of concentric circles and the advancing effect of fluorescent colors. The cross forms, by contrast, hang back and seem partially in contact with the ground zones. The vertical bars, because of their advancing, strong color in neutral surroundings, seem to bend toward us around the re straining, neutral-tone horizontal bars, which hold the form back in close proximity to the ground. The circle paintings' edges seem to push outward from the pres sure exerted by the expanding rings. The cross paintings' sides, on the other hand, seem to be pulled toward the square areas at the centers of the crosses. There is a ten dency to see the cross forms as cartons whose four sides have dropped. The reconstruction 'of the cartons pulls the sides of the paintings in. Even as we perceive limited depth in these paintings in a shallow area between two laterally oriented planes flatness is our central impression. The graphic quality of the surfaces of this work and the even ness of color both speak of flatness. With great delibera tion these pictures confront us in what we are assured through the regularity and similarity of their parts is their entirety. The final layers of polyester resin act as a lens to clarify this perception. Drifting Habitation Polymer emulsion, sand, synthetic polymer paint, and polyester resin on canvas, 27 x 27 (68.6 x 68.6 cm). Collection S. Ronald and Andree Stone, Chicago Eclipse Polymer emulsion, sand, synthetic polymer paint, and polyester resin on canvas, 20 x 20 (50.8 x 50.8 cm) Collection Dr. Stan Cohen, Atlanta The moods of these two painting types differ as well. Associations with targets or staring eyes may contribute to the unsettling effect of the circle paintings. The greater source of unease in this work, however, is the palpable design tension: the circles are not visually anchored to the sides of the square canvases and seem to be trying to free themselves from their sup port, traveling forward and moving laterally. The cross forms, however, relate directly to the geometry of their canvas support, and the pictorial dynamics of these paintings are both more typical and more complex than those of the circle pictures. The horizontal, neutral-color bars extend to the edges of the paintings, but the verti cal, fluorescent bars float free of the paintings' tops and bottoms. The effect of the cross paintings is in general more comfortable than that of the circles, partly as a result of our greater familiarity with this sort of pictorial activity and partly as a result of the way all the elements correspond so beautifully to the canvas shape. In discussion Michael Young is very con cerned with linking his painting to examinations of na ture. Scientific photographs of such natural phenomena as solar eclipses, and of such primary physical structures as cells, are scattered throughout his studio. Early at tempts at diagramming the mysteries of life are of great interest to him. He relates the structure of certain of his paintings to scientific diagrams of rhizomes, or root systems, and speaks of an important component of his paintings, sand, as being the smallest particle of nature visible to the naked eye. Young's explorations, with his art, in the territory of the physical scientist, link him intellectually to the earlier, relational version of geometric abstract art, particularly that of the Russian Constructivists. When these paintings succeed as aes thetic objects, however, the fragments of rational detail the symmetry and geometry, the earth colors, and the allusions to perspective move our attention across the objects, allowing us to enjoy the sensual beauty of this art, but do not elicit extended intellectual involvement. In 1948, Herbert Read addressed this issue in his Gabo and Pevsner, the catalog for an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art: The particular vision of reality common to the construc tivism of Pevsner and Gabo and the neo-plasticism of Mondrian is derived not from the superficial aspects of a mechanized civilization, nor from a reduction of visual data to their cubic planes or plastic volumes (all these activities being merely variations of a naturalistic art), but from the structure of the physical universe as revealed by modern science.... Though the intellectual vision of the artist is derived from modern physics, the creative construction which the artist then presents to the world is not scientific, but poetic. It is the poetry of space, the poetry of time, of universal harmony, of physi cal unity. Art it is its main function accepts this univer sal manifold which science investigates and reveals and reduces it to the concreteness of a plastic symbol. Bob McDaniel, Assistant Curator Department of Drawings biography Born Houston, Texas, October 1, 1952 education Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. MFA, 1977 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Independent Study Program, 1975 University of Texas, Austin. BFA, 1975 selected individual exhibitions Madeleine Madeleine Carter Gallery, Boston Carter Gallery, Boston Betty Cunningham Gallery, New York selected group exhibitions Artists Against AIDS Whitney Museum of American Art at Equitable Center, New York Generations of Geometry: Abstract Painting in America since 1930 Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts Two Painters at Brandeis Nancy Haynes, Joseph Marioni, Gordon Moore, Gunter Umberg, and Michael Young Painting the Object Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles Post-Pop CDS, New York Artists Choose Artists selected bibliography Cohrs, Timothy. Michael Young, Arts Magazine (New York), vol. 61, no. 5 (January 1987), p. 123 Liebmann, Lisa. M.B.A. Abstrac tionism, Flash Art (Milan), no. 132 (February/March 1987), pp New York, Whitney Museum of American Art at Equitable Center. Generations of Geometry: Abstract Painting in America since 1930 (exhibition catalog), 1987 Copyright 1987 The Museum of Modern Art, New York Jite Museum A Modern Arf Library
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