Essay on Improvisation

Source: Arteidolia from our own Daniel Barbiero.

In his 1952 essay “The American Action Painters,” Harold Rosenberg set the template for a particular understanding of the abstract painting of the day. It was an understanding based on a mythology—mythology in the sense of a primal story that makes sense of something without having to be literally true. This was the myth of painting as spontaneous gesture, the product of which—the painting itself–was the record of an event. This event consisted in the existential encounter of the painter, acting freely and without any premeditated notion of what would result, with the blank canvas. As Rosenberg memorably put it, the empty picture plane became “an arena in which to act,” the site of a process rather than a place on which to paint a picture. Call it painting understood as performance. Like many clichés, this one became established because it did contain a core of truth. – See more at:

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