The boundary between painting and sculpture

Tom Carlile

The boundary between painting and sculpture

As explored by American artists from 1950 and into the 1960's

From Robert Rauschenberg to Donald Judd


In 1961 the Museum of Modern Art mounted the exhibition The Art of Assemblage. Curated by William Seitz, this exhibition marked the first time the term "assemblage" was put into popular use and also the first time "assembled art" was recognized for its importance in the context of modern art. Seitz set out to refine the definition of "assemblage" in order to "cover all forms of composite art and modes of juxtaposition". The exhibition was significant in that it presented "assemblage" as one of the most important innovations in modern art.

Assemblage could be considered the 3-dimensional cousin of collage. The origin of the word (in its artistic sense) can be traced back to the early 1950s, when Jean Dubuffet created a series of collages from butterfly wings, which he titled assemblages d'empreintes. However, both Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso had been working with found objects for many years prior to Dubuffet. In 1962, the view that anything could be art was at its peak in the art world. Artists like Robert Rauschenberg with his combine paintings and Jasper Johns imposed this trend in New York: they were the protagonists of a new season for the poetics of the object.

Indeed this new outlook was to some degree shared by a movement in American poetry at the time, known as "Objectivism". The Objectivist Tradition dealt with a "modern poetry" that emerged in the 1930s in the United States though notably it was never so strong in European poetry. The Objectivist poets were a loose-knit group; they were mainly American and were influenced by, amongst others, Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. The basic rule of Objectivist poetry as defined by poet Louis Zukofsky is to treat the poem as an object, to use no word that isn't absolutely necessary for the presentation and to emphasise "sincerity", their favourite slogan was "no ideas but in things" and let things 'speak for themselves'. The visual work discussed in this dissertation shares many parallels with the Objectivist spirit. The 'thing-ness' of things, and of the artwork itself, is always unique it needs no support.

Having studied some of the pivotal American artists and the artistic ideas that they nurtured during the 1950's and into the 60's It is my belief that the Americans did something new with this emergent genre that has proved to be very rich in terms of its significance for later artists. This dissertation is an evaluation of visual work by four American artists in roughly chronological order, having chosen artists who were pre-occupied with similar ideas at this time I hope to show how each artists own progression directly or perhaps indirectly influenced the thinking of those that followed. These artists all questioned and pushed the lines between painting and sculpture. By looking at their ideas, processes and materials, I hope to demonstrate how art during this period progressively began to eliminate art as "metaphor" the question of the "real" becoming the central consideration.

Robert Rauschenberg

In 1954 artist Robert Rauschenberg began to break down the rigidly held barriers between the mediums of painting and sculpture by combining both mediums into one work of art. He started this process initially by using collage in his paintings. Photographs, newsprint, magazines and other forms of photographic reproductions were all layered upon each other to give him new and interesting imagery to work with. After finding his ground with these two dimensional compositions he soon began to incorporate all kinds of materials into his canvases, no longer restricting himself to traditional collage mediums. Rauschenberg began to incorporate clothing, miscellaneous debris and machine parts, cast-off commodities such as old children's toys and even stuffed animals. He coined the term "Combine" to differentiate these works of art from traditional painting; he believed them to be neither painting nor sculpture, but rather an indelible, interchangeable mixture of the two.

Bed, created in 1955, was one of Robert Rauschenberg's first Combines. In this work he started by framing a well-worn pillow, sheet, and quilt that were given to him by the artist Dorothea Rockburne. Already on this level the work performs a kind of triple rotation of optical space: You look down on, at, and into it simultaneously despite it residing technically on the one plane. By disregarding the use of a traditional canvas Rauschenberg is already provoking questions about whether this work can be categorised as a painting or if it's something else. Indeed on top of the fabric are layers of pencil scribbles, ink and splashed paint, executed in a style almost reminiscent of Abstract Expressionism, but it appears to me to be more an exploration of the existing surface of the bed itself rather than an attempt to disregard what lies beneath the pigment.

I don't personally think Rauschenberg's intention is to make the viewer forget that they are looking at an image of a bed, but rather to use the power of the viewers associated preconceptions to add depth to the work. Notably Rauschenberg utilised other more unusual materials such as nail polish and toothpaste as mediums in their own right to further deface the bed. Although these materials certainly add a certain aesthetic quality to the work it's the fact that Rauschenberg chooses to use these items in particular, normally associated with very personal, or intimate use, that begins to suggest that there is perhaps more to the work than on initial inspection. In doing so Rauschenberg explores one of the most important issues in contemporary art even today, the idea of blurring the boundary between the realm of art and the more prosaic realm of the everyday. It is also undeniable for me that the work has sexual connotations, visually the crumpled fabric is reminiscent of sheets after lovemaking and as a single bed it perhaps also implies autoerotic and private desires. Rauschenberg himself does not deny the fact he was conscious of associations already present within the onlooker when creating the work.

"All material has history," "I had to make a surface," he said, "which invited a constant change of focus and examination of detail. Listening happens in time. Looking also happens in time." 1

Perhaps Rauschenberg's most frequently cited quote is

"Painting relates to both art and life. Neither can be made. I try to act in that gap between the two." 2

What does Rauschenberg mean that neither art nor life can be made? In this deceptively simple statement I believe he is suggesting that both are readymade and always precede us. Rauschenberg's work places the viewer in this "gap between the two", the space between the throwaway commodities of yesterday and the high art to be preserved for tomorrow. It is in this ever changing region that the viewer is offered a moment of reflection about how we organize and how we order the extraordinary volume of objects and information in our lives, and how we may come to see randomness in order, and aesthetic beauty in the everyday.

Rauschenberg created perhaps his most instantly recognisable of his Combines when he completed Monogram in 1959. Monogram features a stuffed Angora goat encircled by a tire. The goat, whose snout is covered in multi-coloured paint, is standing on a painting, as if grazing at pasture.

In this later work, I believe the lines between painting and sculpture have become more obviously blurred than in Bed. No longer restricted to the two-dimensional plane of Bed, The goat stands upright on top of what could be traditionally viewed as the artwork itself. Reminiscent of a gargoyle or scavenger it gives the impression it could be guarding over or inversely destroying the art it rests upon. It has been suggested that the hoofed creature is a manifestation of Rauschenberg himself. Certainly in early Christian art goats symbolized the damned. I believe that Rauschenberg himself, as a gay/bisexual man and an artist, would have been acutely aware he was still viewed as an outsider and of his persecution by the American culture at the time.

Comparisons may be drawn with Jasper Johns' Flag (1954-1955) in that both artists, who were at one point lovers, declare through their work their disapproval of the values that were held and surrounded them at the time You could perhaps view Monogram as a profound statement of Rauschenberg's beliefs, a line drawn across and through American sexual and cultural values, his attempt at carving his monogram into art history.

Whilst it is possible to debate the multiple meanings and connotations of both works somewhat endlessly I feel it is important not to disregard how the physical construction of the Combines themselves first initiates this game of interpretation. When they were first seen in the 1960s, it is important to remember that art critics on the whole viewed them as formal exercises in elaborate composition and arrangement of shapes, colours, and textures.

The inherent ambiguity of the Combines makes it notoriously difficult to decipher and filter out one core interpretation because the images and objects are not presented to the viewer in an ordered fashion. It is, therefore, hard to discern what object or image is more important than any other. Is the tennis ball behind the goat in Bed any more or less significant than the fact the animals face is painted? It is impossible to say. Indeed it may be by no means coincidental that Rauschenberg's Combines came into existence in the burgeoning era of television and the mass media; some art historians have suggested that the random, non-hierarchical quality of the Combines is a direct reference to the image-saturated culture we now inhabit.

In addition to evoking popular culture, Rauschenberg's strategy of accumulation has also provoked critics to consider his works as analogous to both fine arts and natural history museums. Historically, the role of the museum has been to collect, collate and preserve the past for the reflection of present and future generations. Rauschenberg's Combines mimic this accumulation of objects. They are situated somewhere between the culture of the mass media and the museum, pointing towards the continuous unrelenting tide of information that shapes our day to day experiences. This breakdown of traditional genres between sculpture and painting permitted the slippage between the areas of high and low culture in Rauschenberg's work to flourish, allowing the works to bind the painterly gestures of fine art to everyday objects, asking perhaps more precisely, where is, the gap between art and life?

Jasper Johns

Johns began making Flag with what would have been regarded as respectable, even conventional, avant-garde materials: enamel paints on a bed sheet. But he could not control the paint the way he wanted to. He would put the paint on the canvas and when attempting to add another brushstroke the second would smear the first unless he waited for the first to dry which took too long.

Either Johns had read about encaustic painting or someone suggested that he use hot wax as a medium because it dries very quickly. With the wax he could put layer upon layer on top of each other without affecting what had previously been done. Johns developed what he knew of the encaustic technique and applied it to collage. He dipped pieces of newsprint into hot-pigmented wax (red, white and blue) and fixed them to the fabric and to each other before the wax cooled and solidified. In some places extra coloured wax was brushed on and in other places oil paint was applied, conventionally, with a brush. Johns' use of dabbed paint and separate applications of wax and newsprint enabled him to give the fabric a new uniform surface of something that was neither of painting nor collage but both.

Making a painting of a flag is not the same as making one with paint. From the moment Johns hit on the idea of having the Stars and Stripes provide the precise structure for the way he uses the surface, the idea of making a painting of a flag was compromised. What johns was doing was more like making a Stars and Stripes than making a painting of one. A major problem must have been how to ensure that what he painted did not fuse with the Stars and Stripes to such an extent that he made the flag of the United States of America. With the change from enamel paints to coloured wax and newsprint scrap he hit on an effective way of preventing that from happening. What prevents Flag from becoming the flag of the United States of America is, more than anything else, its fascinating surface.

Leo Steinberg wrote at the end of 1961 that in johns' work

"Object and emblem, content and form, subject and surface, subject and picture become so much one and the same - they are held in a kind of perpetual oscillation - that the distinction hardly holds" 3

Flag offers us a choice, is it a flag or is it a painting? When Johns was asked himself he said it was

"Just a way of beginning... the painting of a flag is always about a flag, but it is no more about a flag than it is about a brush-stroke or about a colour or about the physicality of paint, I think" 4

The peculiar character of Flag, where the Stars and Stripes are so thoroughly congruent means that whenever you look at it there is both flag and painting. Both are in place and each works to interrupt the effect of the other to the extent that Flag seems neither one nor the other and both. This causes interesting problems for the spectator and indeed the art critic when attempting to attest to its meaning and value.

Target with plaster casts is a large construction. It consist of a blue and yellow target which sits on a red field of colour on top of which there is a row of nine hinged compartments with lids that can either reveal or hide the contents of the box. Eight of these contain plaster casts of body parts. A purple foot, a white nose and lips, a red hand with the little finger missing, a pink breast, an orange ear a green penis and scrotum, a black bone and a yellow heel. One of the boxes is empty but for some collage on the inside. Each plaster cast is painted the same colour as the box it has come to occupy. I think it's important to note that here the making of plaster casts is a method and material most commonly associated with the practice of sculpture. However I feel it is significant that here they have come to occupy a space above and at the edge of a large pictorial surface, attached almost as a kind of "editorial sculptural comment".

There has been a tendency to see both Flag and Target with plaster casts as two objects similar in terms of form and facture. They are "things the mind already knows", the Stars and Stripes and a 'target' in each case a pre-established arrangement limits and prescribes the use of the surface and in each case a surface has been applied with the same technique. However the use of boxed plaster cast body parts makes the effect of Target with plaster casts different to that of Flag. Some of Target with plaster casts meaning is hidden and literally set apart from the beholder. It imposes a 'moral decision on the viewer' who, presumably could either close the lids over the cast body parts or stop looking. Another of the first commentators on Johns' art found that with the lids closed the 'concentration' was on the 'presence and beauty of the target' and that with the lids open there was a 'mystery'. Flag affects the observer in a different way. Unlike Target with plaster casts it does not surrender to being looked at or not looked at.

Frank Stella

If there is something that characterizes Frank Stella's work as a painter it is a desire to break out of the canvas, to go beyond the limits imposed by a conventional two-dimensional rectangle within a frame. It is because of this I feel Frank Stella's work effectively segues the end of painting with the de-definition of sculpture. Take for example his Aluminium Series. Frank Stella's aluminium paintings were the first works in which he departed from the traditional rectangular format within a frame.

Most noticeably these canvases are shaped. By cutting out symmetrical notches at the corners or half way along the sides Stella created a new kind of surface to work with. The two paintings shown above, Six Mile Bottom and the similar but square Avicenna were the only two that also had holes in the centre, and I believe therefore represented a particularly significant stage in Stella's development of the shaped canvas. The pictures themselves were executed with house painters' brushes. The stripes that twist down the lengths of the canvases were quite simply the width of the brush used (Stella had earlier made his living partly by working as a house painter). Both Six Mile Bottom and Avicenna were rendered with a commercial paint made to serve as an undercoat for radiators, painted straight onto un-primed canvas. The idea of using metallic paint had come from Pollock; Stella, while a student, had once made a drip painting in aluminium and black enamel based on Pollock's work. The metallic paint served to repel the viewer in being impenetrable to vision and in doing so helped to assert the plane of the picture surface itself. The depth of the canvas supports also help to give the works a very sculptural quality, by jutting out significantly from the gallery wall they reinforce Stella's intention to highlight the paintings as objects occupying a space in their own right.For Stella the point was never the trick of pictorial perspective, such as Rauschenberg's Bed but instead the notion that the canvas was a real object existing in real space, with a real shape, not a window to another world but a full and complete world unto itself.Barbara Rose (an American art historian and art critic) suggested that Jasper Johns influenced this series, in that the image and the field are identical.

There were altogether eight pictures in the Aluminium series, all painted in 1960: 'Avicenna', 'Kingsbury Run', 'Newstead Abbey', 'Six Mile Bottom', 'Union Pacific', 'Luis Miguel Dominguin', 'Marquis de Portago' and 'Averroes', though Stella later also made a second version of 'Luis Miguel Dominguin' as the original had been damaged. Carl Andre (an American minimalist) claims that he had suggested the title 'Six Mile Bottom' to Stella and that like another title in the series, 'Newstead Abbey', it was a Byronic reference. Augusta Leigh, Byron's half-sister, lived at Six Mile Bottom, Newmarket and Newstead Abbey belonged to the Byron family.

Stella continued these thoughts and ideas on dimensionality with the Copper series the following year. In these he produced huge canvases in shapes like an L or U, in which the voids were not simple notches but more conspicuous cuts. By the mid 1960's he was producing monumental paintings whose canvases were assemblages of chevrons, the cutouts expanding to huge v-shaped sections, and in the Notched V and Running V series he began to create the illusion that the canvas was folding upward. It seems perhaps inevitable that Stella would begin to make reliefs, very deliberately extending his paintings out from the canvas plane. This is perhaps most noticeable in his Polish Village series.

The Polish Village Series despite being a continuation of concepts Stella was pre-occupied with at the time, is still widely considered to be one of the most major if not radical breakthroughs in Stella's style from his earlier striped works. The Polish Village Series (its title in part homage to architecture) certainly appears as the point of departure for something that, we know now, would evolve dramatically over time as Stella became surer of his methods and materials. Initially though it began as an experiment in form building.

The series was very labour intensive. Each sketch was redrawn on graph paper and then one to four models were built, some just out of plywood, and others with a variety of materials. In the end the forty designs became more than 130 individual works. Although the Polish Village Series is much different in style from the earlier works, the series continues Stella's interest not only in space but also in geometric patterns and colour variations

The works in this series are all mixed media, moving away from Stella's previous use of the traditional canvas; Jarmolince III is made with homosote, chipboard, plywood, Masonite and cardboard. Its intermittent stripes are indented or popped forward, a device that Stella would later apply liberally in his architectural designs. In the case of Jarmolince III these tactile stripes converge along a central spine that, seen from a certain angle, could even suggest the looming corner of a building. When questioned about the series Stella said that

"The impulse that goes into them is pictorial. The works carry on the tradition of Cubism and Russian Constructivism and explore two-dimensional geometric shapes through colour and texture." 5

This quote may seem at odds with what I have been discussing about Stella's pre-occupation with space first and foremost when he describes the two-dimensionality of the work but I believe that though on reflection it perhaps seems like he treaded a very clear progression from his paintings into his much later architecture, I do not think that this was the case at the time. For all the extraordinary power Stella's art has had as an exploration of colour, line and form in two dimensions, it is hard for me not to look at his paintings and feel that what has most intrigued him, consciously or sub-consciously is space: the space between lines, the space left out of the canvas, the space you imagine as you look at his shapes, and the very real space that exists between the painting and the viewer. I think he wants to control all these spaces and through his painting he has. This combination of manipulating both colour and space together would lead him to create the rich, baroque extravaganzas of swirling, clashing forms that he has been producing since.

In making works of tremendous intensity that demanded to occupy real not just conceptual space, it seems logical that Stella would make the leap from these works to the making of architecture, he has been moving toward it, methodically, in his evolution as a painter. Without wanting to delve to deeply into the realms of architecture within this essay I think it's as if he wanted to see what would happen when he started not forcing paint into the realm of space but rather by crafting the space itself.

So now we have a blurring of boundaries between painting (now de-defined as a work of art that hangs on the wall) sculpture, and architecture. But the interrelationship between painting and sculpture introduced by Stella could only be amplified by the work of one artist in particular, the work of Donald Judd.

Donald Judd

Donald Judd could be considered a product of the American Midwest. He grew up in Missouri spending his summers with his grandparents out on a farm, one of the influencing factors perhaps behind his search for a studio space away from the busy metropolitan cities later in life. He came out of military service immediately after the war and began in 1949 at the Arts Students League, at this time he remained undecided as to whether he should be an artist or architect but in '49 decided he was going to become an artist. It is I think important to note that at this time he also had a very strong interest in philosophy and at a very early moment he found himself enrolling in Columbia University and studying philosophy, through the '50s he saw himself as a painter but also as a painter who had a very strong interest in logic. He admitted that in the early years his own thinking developed as a result of conversations with artists like Frank Stella. Judd's early work as and artist and indeed as a "painter" developed from creating low-relief artwork. To understand fully the progression of Judd's work I think it is necessary to examine one of these early pieces as an introduction.

Initialy in the late '40s, through the '50s Judd was painting very abstracted landscapes looking at the work of artists like Stuart Davis and Willem de Kooning. His motivation however was to steadily try and remove from his paintings any sense of expression or composition. The painting "Untitled, 1962" although not based on a landscape, is perhaps one of the first artworks which shows him moving towards his own vocabulary as an artist. He took away imagery, he tried to take away composition, he tried to reduce the painting to basic elements of colour on a flat surface and yet at the same time he was trying to introduce some sense of depth. The actual work itself is a flat plane of Liquitex and sand. Into this Judd takes a plastic letter, a Plexiglas letter from a shop sign, turns it on its side, and uses it to create depth giving the piece colour in the substance of the material itself and then using an extraordinary cadmium, light cadmium red, as the background for the painting.

This is perhaps one of his earliest attempts to try and find a way to make art that existed on its own terms without the support of metaphor. Because of his outlook he is commonly most readily identified with a group of artists known as the Minimalists. At the time Minimalists were questioning what was possible in art rather than trying to abolish old ways of thinking, they were trying to work out what could be done. How could you make art that exists as something purely physical and visual on a simultaneous level? Though he shunned the term "Minimalism" Donald Judd became somewhat unwittingly one of the movement's leading artists as it emerged as a counterforce to Abstract Expressionism. Where Abstract Expressionism focused on gestural, intuitive expression, Minimalism dealt solely with materials and space. The work of art became purely a product of the interaction between object, viewer and the environment.

I think one of the most remarkable aspects of Judd's career is the very rapid way in which he progressed and shifted from painting with depth into three dimensions so completely. He altogether abandoned "painting" In the early 1960s stating that

"Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface." 6

Judd's earliest freestanding "sculptures" were singular, boxlike forms constructed of wood, metal or both. The piece Untitled 1963 is one of the first of his explorations of the cube and of volume. A red floor box painted that same vibrant light cadmium red as in Untitled 1962 When Judd selected this red, he chose it because he had found from his previous experiments it to be a colour that absorbed light. When applied to a three dimensional form he found it was very precise in highlighting and showing the edges of his work, helping to show and register the distinction of the form but also at the same time he found that it was a colour that had a sense of "all-over-ness" as he described it. It was somehow a single volume, it unified the surfaces and it was a colour that he would use time and time again.

The box itself has a semi-circular channel cut into the upper surface. Resting within and emphasising this channel is an iron pipe. The pipe, which he found on Canal Street, is an example of him taking a found object and incorporating it into his work. In doing so I believe that he was trying to find something in the real world that helped to determine the size, shape and form of the object he was attempting to make and in doing so trying to make something that was real in the world and based in that world and not something that was artificial. Judd tried to avoid positioning the channel in an obvious spot, commenting that

"I did a great deal of juggling to make it un-composed" 7

Judd also built another box, this time painted vibrant chartreuse green, with instead a semi-circular yellow enamelled iron pipe inserted into the trough, demonstrating I think Judd's early and unusual commitment to exploring the potential of colour in sculpture. Although colour is undoubtedly a major consideration in Judd's work and philosophy it his hard to underestimate the role that the materials used to construct the work themselves played. After an exhibition at the Green Gallery, New York in 1963-4 which established his reputation, he began to have his pieces fabricated in all sorts of materials.

Possibly because he wanted to make "American" art he initially brought in distinctly American industrial materials that had not previously been considered for making art, including stainless steel, concrete, plywood, brass, copper, Plexiglas, and galvanized iron (often enamelled or anodized).

As his exploration of three-dimensional space became more complex, he began to develop works that were based upon rows and progressions of systematically recurring forms. In its repetition of forms and spaces, the vertical stack of Untitled 1969 literally incorporates space as one of its materials along with highly polished copper, creating interplay between forms and spaces.

Judd made many of these so-called "stacks" consisting of a number (usually 10, but variable according to the height of the room) of identical, projecting units hung one above the other on the wall. The intervening spaces have the same dimensions as the units, as does the space between the floor and the first unit, so that the boxes link the floor to the ceiling. These pieces are the first indication of his interest in integrating his art with the architecture of the room. Judd used this standard stack form to experiment with his different materials. In some the tops and bottoms are made of coloured Plexiglas which creates an astonishing effect. Judd often used Plexiglas in his work. Since its colour was inherent in the material it would filter the light causing the colour to glow in the intervening spaces giving the stacks the appearance of gently gleaming columns. It also had the added benefit through its transparency of allowing an interior view of his structures.

Combinations of materials and the emphasising of their individual qualities is something highly characteristic of Judd's work throughout. Sometimes those combinations are very subtle, polished aluminium against anodised aluminium for example, sometimes they're quite sharp in their distinctions, between a bright colour and a dull material. But it is undeniable that Judd was fascinated by these juxtapositions. If you went to his studio for instance you would find a whole range of materials laid out with small panels and samples sitting on the work benches, he loved the way different materials literally felt between your fingers and also of course the different properties that determined the ways it could reflect light.

Judd's use of materials has sometimes been described as "sumptuous" although he rigorously denies any sensuality in his work. This does not however exclude the fact that his work can be interpreted as beautiful in an "anxious utopian" kind of way. It is clear for me that he found an intrinsic beauty in all of his materials and he definitely shows or rather reveals this beauty in the way he presents it to us in his art. This is possibly the one thing that distinguishes Judd from other artists at the time, including other minimalists.

It is understandable that perhaps Judd's work can be considered hard to like because I think the purity that Judd searched for in his work is the kind most people don't like in sculpture, no figure, no parts, no relationships, no movement and most importantly no metaphors or "secrets" His works exists as things in themselves and completely inexpressive things at that. His art tells us nothing about the world.

When you approach Judd, or indeed any art of this kind, can be a sense that you are being expected to understand the rational thought processes that have led to the adoption of a particular progression or a set of permutations of colour and it seems that there must be a system here which you have to crack. While I think it's important to discuss Judd's work in terms of the sculpture, the processes which he used and obviously the materials, I feel that ultimately in rejecting the metaphorical so completely in his art it serves not to remove entirely any emotional response to the piece but rather to heighten a sense of one's own place and body in the world. As soon as Judd began to explore the notion of a sculpture which moved across or up a wall, or was placed at eye level, he was very conscious that placing a sculpture in a space conditioned the way you looked at it. It conditioned the way you felt about it, it conditioned literally the way your own body responded to it. When experiencing these works in the right context, the impact of them is so much greater. The quality and the way in which it affects your body and your own physicality is unexpected, you have this sense of art doing what it can do at its best, which is in some sense to begin to uncover some of the natural order in the world, in some sense make us very conscious of ourselves and of our place in relation to that world.


They replace the representation of the object with the presence of the object itself which, once removed from reality, is re-processed, re-defined and altered through a process of juxtaposition, accumulation and assemblage in which intuition, chance and automatism play a major role.

With its redemption of consumables, New Dadaist research precedes and somehow prepares the birth of pop art in the United

Where Johns takes an intellectual approach in the Flags, Rauschenberg leaves it to the viewer, Stella turns picture into object to undercut metaphor and Judd would have rejected the metaphorical in favour of the real at every turn.

There is a lot of good detail in what you've written here. I think you could say more in each section about the physical materiality of the artists' work, and that the question of 'the real' is very much at the centre of it all.

There was a strong tradition (called 'Objectivism') in modernist American poetry of the 1930s to 1960s (and after) to cut out metaphors (the favourite slogan was "no ideas but in things") and let things 'speak for themselves'. This tendency was never so strong in European poetry. This could help explain why it was the Yanks who pushed so far ahead at this time, for the visual work you discuss shares a lot of the Objectivist spirit. The 'thinginess' of things, and of the artwork itself, is always unique, and metaphors tend to distract from that. If art is to connect to reality, should it not then dump metaphorical thinking? For artists who think along those lines, the approaches taken by your artists make a lot of sense.

They replace the representation of the object with the presence of the object itself which, once removed from reality, is re-processed, re-defined and altered through a process of juxtaposition, accumulation and assemblage in which intuition, chance and automatism play a major role.

With its redemption of consumables, New Dadaist research precedes and somehow prepares the birth of pop art in the United

Where Johns takes an intellectual approach in the Flags, Rauschenberg leaves it to the viewer, Stella turns picture into object to undercut metaphor and Judd would have rejected the metaphorical in favour of the real at every turn.

There is a lot of good detail in what you've written here. I think you could say more in each section about the physical materiality of the artists' work, and that the question of 'the real' is very much at the centre of it all. say something general about the contribution of each of your chosen artists.

There was a strong tradition (called 'Objectivism') in modernist American poetry of the 1930s to 1960s (and after) to cut out metaphors (the favourite slogan was "no ideas but in things") and let things 'speak for themselves'. This tendency was never so strong in European poetry. This could help explain why it was the Yanks who pushed so far ahead at this time, for the visual work you

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