Prowling in the Wilderness

"...colleges being nothing but grooming schools for the middle class non-identity which usually finds its perfect expression on the outskirts of the campus in rows of well-to-do houses with lawns and television sets is each living room with everybody looking at the same thing and thinking the same thing at the same time while the Japhies of the world go prowling in the wilderness..." - Jack Kerouac in The Dharma Bums
Annotated Bibliography now due on Canvas!
Please don't forget to post on the class Discussion board!!
Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, 1953.












Mark Rothko, Seagram Murals, 1958 - 1960.










Simon Schama's The Power of Art: Rothko











Rothko Chapel

Mark Rothko, Paintings inside the Rothko Chapel, 1964.











Barnett Newman, Broken Obelisk outside the Rothko Chapel (one of four), 1963 - 1967.


Meditation and Modern Art Meet in the Rothko Chapel


More on the Rothko Trial










Robert Motherwell, At Five in the Afternoon, 1950.
Oil on hardboard. 36 ¾ x 48 ½ inches.











Garcia Lorca poem, "Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias"
Lorca wrote the poem to lament the death of his bullfighter friend
Three symbolic colrs in the poem:
Red = blood
White = blinding light of the sun
Black = death
Federico Garcia Lorca











Elegy 110
Allusions to the Spanish struggle
in Motherwell's series:
  • Reference to bullfighting in the abstract image of a bull's genitalia (probably inspired by Guernica)
  • Rounded forms pressed against weighty dark bars symbolizes the struggle for democracy & freedom
  • Dramatic sense of tension throughout the compositons
Robert Motherwell, Elegy to the Spanish Republic 110, 1971.










Elegy to the Spanish Republic series
elegy = lament or funeral song
Spanish Civil War 1936 - 1939
More than 700,000 people killed in combat
To Motherwell, the Spanish Civil War served as metaphor for injustice.

  • Motherwell conceived the series as commemorations of human suffering
  • Intended as symbols for the cycle of life and death
  • The U.S. government used Motherwell's series as a symbol of the fight between democracy and fascism.
Modern Art Was CIA Weapon
Robert Motherwell, Elegy to the Spanish Republic,
No. 34
, 1953 - 1954.











Suggestions in Onement I
Onement I
Oneness with another being
  • When you atone you connect and communicate
  • Jews atone during Yom Kippur
  • Cabbalists regard Yom Kippur as a time to reflect on the mystery of creation
  • The separation of light and darkness
  • The beginning of life
Red-brown field
  • Suggests the earth
  • Hebrew word for earth = adamah
  • In Genesis, Adam was made from earth
Barnett Newman, Onement I, 1948.











Barnett Newman, Vir Heroicus Sublimis (Man, Heroic and Sublime), 1950 - 1951. approx. 8' X 18'.











Sublime = lofty, grand or exalted in thought, expression or manner; of outstanding spiritual, intellectual or moral worth; tending to inspire awe usually because of elevated quality
Epiphany = an appearance or manifestation of a divine being; a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something; an intuitive grasp of reality through something usually simple and striking

Monk by the Sea

"Instead of making cathedrals out of Christ , man or life, we are making them out of ourselves, out of our own feelings." - Barnett Newman
Caspar David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea, 1808 - 1809.











Vir Heroicus Sublimis

Viewers absorbing Vir Heroicus Sublimis






















Barnett Newman, First Station, 1958.
Barnett Newman, Lema Sabachthani, Fifth Station, 1962.











Competing Sensibilities in postwar American art:
America vs. Europe
Gestural abstraction vs. Purified Abstraction
Objecthood vs. Flatness of the Picture Plane
Figuration vs. Abstraction
Performance vs. Objecthood
Masculinity vs. Homosexuality
Artist, Allan Kaprow saw Pollock as opening up two avenues within postwar art. One involved continuing in a modernist vein. The other offered a radical option to artists; "to give up the making of paintings entirely....Pollock left us at the point where we must become preoccupied with and even dazzled by the space and objects of our everyday life." - Allan Kaprow, The Legacy of Jackson Pollock, 1958
Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled, 1955.