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OP INFINITUM: ‘THE RESPONSIVE EYE’ FIFTY YEARS AFTER (PART II) AMERICAN OP ART IN THE 60S

DAVID RICHARD GALLERY


ISBN: 978-0-9907011-4-9 FRONT COVER: Tadasky, C188, 1965, Acrylic on canvas, 57” x 57”, page 13 Oli Sihvonen, Untitled (230), 1968, Oil on canvas, 87” x 58” TITLE PAGE: Leon Berkowitz, Oblique #6, 1968, Oil on canvas, 114” x 37” Tadaaki Kuwayama, TK4935-1/2-’65, 1965, Acrylic on canvas, 35.5” x 35.5” John Goodyear, John Cage Throws a Fish Into The Piano, 1960, Enamel, acrylic on wood, 72” x 35” x 1” PAGES 4 & 5: Julian Stanczak, Tactile See-Through, 1974, Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36” Ed Mieczkowski, Extrend, 1964, Acrylic on board, 40” x 36” Richard Anuszkiewicz, List, 1968, Acrylic on masonite, 48” x 48” Karl Benjamin, #43, 1965, Oil on canvas, 25.5” x 51” Tadasky, C188, 1965, Acrylic on canvas, 57” x 57” Oli Sihvonen, Untitled (230), 1968, Oil on canvas, 87” x 58” PAGES 18 Larry Poons, Untitled, 1960, Acrylic on canvas, 40” x 40” Tony DeLap, Miss Mystic, 2004-2012, Acrylic on aluminum, wood, Hi-D foam, 27.5” x 35” x 3” (Courtesy Charlotte Jackson Fine Art) Thomas Downing, Kissii, 1972, Acrylic on canvas, 50” x 50” PAGES 25 Ward Jackson, Parallel Point #1, ca 1963, Acrylic on canvas, 37” x 37” John Goodyear, John Cage Throws a Fish Into The Piano, 1960, Enamel, acrylic on wood, 72” x 35” x 1” INSIDE BACK COVER: Karl Benjamin, #43, 1965, Oil on canvas, 25.5” x 51” Mario Yrisarry, SUMMER, 1965, Acrylic on canvas, 77” x 68” Larry Zox, UNITITED, 1975, Acrylic on canvas, 22” x 60” Oli Sihvonen, Untitled (230), 1968, Oil on canvas, 87” x 58” Losser Feitelson, Untitled (September 22), 1964, Acrylic on canvas, 60” x 60” BACK COVER: Mon Levenson, Multilayered print from Rosa Esman’s New York Ten Portfolio, 1964, Acetate film layers and paper, 14.5” x 11.75” Rakuko Naito, RN1468-64, 1964, Acrylic and metallic acrylic on linen, 68” x 68” ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Published on the occasion of the exhibition: Op Infinitum: ‘The Repsonsive Eye’ Fifty Years After (Part II), American OpArt in the 60s May 26 – July 12, 2015 Curated by David Eichholtz and Peter Frank David Richard Gallery 544 South Guadalupe Street Santa Fe, NM 87501 P: 505-983-9555 | DavidRichardGallery.com Gallery Staff: David Eichholtz and Richard Barger, Managers Published by: David Richard Gallery, LLC, Santa Fe, NM All rights reserved. No part of this catalogue may be reproduced in whole or part in digital or printed form of any kind whatsoever without the express written permission from the copyright holder. Catalogue: © 2015 David Richard Gallery, LLC, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Essay: © 2015 Peter Frank, Los Angeles, CA Art: Richard Anuszkiewicz © Richard Anuszkiewicz. Reproduction permission licensed through VAGA, NY, www.vagarights.com; Karl Benjamin © Benjamin Artworks, courtesy Louis Stern Fine Arts; Ernst Benkert © Ernst Benkert Estate; Leon Berkowitz © Leon Berkowitz Estate; Francis Celentano © Francis Celentano; Tony DeLap © Tony DeLap, (Courtesy Charlotte Jackson Fine Art); Thomas Downing © Estate of Thomas Downing; Lorser Feitelson © The Feitelson / Lundeberg Arts Foundation, courtesy Louis Stern Fine Arts; John Goodyear © John Goodyear; Francis Hewitt © Francis Hewitt Estate; Charles Hinman © Charles Hinman; Ward Jackson © Ward Jackson Estate: Tadaaki Kuwayama © Tadaaki Kuwayama; Leroy Lamis © The Estate of Leroy Lamis; Mon Levinson © Mon Levinson Estate, Courtesy D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc.; Ed Mieczkowski © Ed Mieczkowski; Rakuku Naito © Rakuku Naito; Larry Poons © Larry Poons Paul Reed © Paul Reed; Oli Sihvonen © The Oli Sihvonen Trust; Julian Stanczak © Julian Stanczak; Peter Stroud © Estate of Peter Stroud; Tadasky © Tadasky (Tadasuke Kuwayama); Leo Valledor © Leo Valledor Estate; Mario Yrisarry © Mario Yrisarry; Larry Zox © Larry Zox Estate Photos of art and installations: Greg Zinniel Catalogue Design: David Eichholtz and Richard Barger, David Richard Gallery, LLC, Santa Fe, NM We thank all of the artists and estates who enthusiastically participated in this exhibition and generously contributed their artworks. Moreover, we are so thankful for all of these artists, whose dedication to their artistic endeavors and desire to explore visual perception created some of the most stimulating and enduring works of art that made this presentation possible. We thank all of our colleagues and the galleries who supported this exhibition and agreed to lend artworks, including: Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York; Louis Stern Fine Arts, Los Angeles; D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc., New York; David Hall Fine Art, LLC, Wellesley; CHarlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, and LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe. A very special thanks goes to co-curator, art historian, critic, and writer Peter Frank. Peter’s deep knowledge of Op Art and the artists in this exhibition and his thoughtful essay bring new insights to this important area of art. Our spirited conversations and countless edits, combined with Peter seeing first hand The Responsive Eye at the Museum of Modern Art in February, 1965, made this not only a great exhibition that focuses on the passion and careers of these artists, but a richly rewarding experience for me (David Eichholtz) as an art historian, curator and gallerist.


OP INFINITUM: ‘THE RESPONSIVE EYE’ FIFTY YEARS AFTER (PART II) AMERICAN OP ART IN THE 60S

CURATED BY DAVID EICHHOLTZ AND PETER FRANK

DAVID RICHARD GALLERY


THE RESPONSIVE OTHER EYE: OPTICAL ABSTRACTION IN AND OUT OF MOMA By Peter Frank

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“The Responsive Eye,” the New York Museum of Modern Art’s controversial 1965 survey of a new kind of “optical” abstraction, was not the instigator, or even definer, of this abstraction, but merely its critical and popular apotheosis. I say “merely” because the MOMA exhibition – a result of several years of research and travel by curator William C. Seitz – served neither to define nor to spur the movement (such as it may have been), but only to summarize, and give establishment approval to, a tendency whose prominence was already assured. The controversy stemmed from the fact that the museum, an august presence in modern art internationally, was giving credence to an aesthetic attitude regarded by many as superficial and solicitous of its audience (and, for some, already played out). Nothing, of course, could have been further from the truth: the artists included in “The Responsive Eye” were, to a man (and occasional woman), gravely serious about their investigations and productions. The collection of retinally provocative paintings and objects on view came from widely varied places, cultures, theories, and practices, and the show in fact grouped together several discrete national and international movements whose diversity was apparent even then. But its breadth was, or was perceived as, a weakness as much as a strength of “The Responsive Eye.” Rather than a neatly packaged presentation of Op Art per se, the exhibition roamed all over non-objective practice, gathering what Seitz considered artworks exemplary of a very broadly defined tendency. Color-field painters, geometric abstractionists, “hard edge” painters, artists working with optical illusions, artists working with patterns and sequences, and various other experimentalists – and, if you would, experimental traditionalists – hung and stood cheek by jowl in MOMA’s special exhibition galleries, grouped less by style than by medium or format. Seitz had similarly surveyed the practice of “junk sculpture” several years earlier; but in “The Art of Assemblage,” a better received show, he had been able to provide an overview of collage and assemblage throughout the 20th century, while in “The Responsive Eye” he felt compelled early on to abandon what had been an ambitious historical/didactic component. This gave “The Responsive Eye” an implicit commitment to the “new and now,” an implication that proved a hindrance to its reception. Having begun work on the show in the fall of 1962, Seitz found that, by time he mounted it in late winter 1965, the art world had caught up with, and in a certain sense passed, him. The American (mostly East Coast) painters of “post-painterly abstraction” had already found their niche in galleries and museums around the country. European and Latin American “concretists,” not least several artistic “teams,” had been active since the early-mid 1950s, had been interlinking since at least the first “Nouvelle Tendence” show in Zagreb in 1961, and were beginning to break up and evolve. The “true” Op artists – certainly the North American ones – were more recent arrivals on the scene, but even they had been enjoying successful shows in New York for a good year or so, received (rightly or wrongly) as a kind of Pop Art without subject matter. Seitz and MOMA seemed to be a day late. And, arguably, a quart short. Surveys as expansive and polemical as “The Responsive Eye” must invariably exclude many artists, usually at least as many as they include. The entire museum could have been filled to its rafters with artwork appropriate to the rubric of “perceptual abstraction,” if widely varied in more precise terms of style. But such stylistic variation required that Seitz only sample this style or that, relying on a relatively few artists in each case to argue for their style’s principles and the appropriateness of those principles to the larger polemic. As a result, any number of artists active and


relatively well known at the time had to be passed over in favor of others who were, admittedly, no less well known, but no more so, either. “Op Infinitum,” then, imagines a follow-up to “The Responsive Eye.” It is, of course, a different kind of follow-up than was our previous Op show. If “Post Op” embellished “Responsive Eye” artists’ seminal work with their later work, “Op Infinitum” takes the “Responsive Eye” roster and adds to it. All the work in “Op Infinitum” dates from the 1960s or thereabouts; many pieces here could have been in the MOMA show. But in a good third of the cases in “Op Infinitum,” nothing of these artists’ work, Op and/ or color-field or concretist or whatever, was seen at MOMA at all. Painters of “shaped canvases” such as Chuck Hinman and Leo Valledor, straight-ahead color-field painters like Larry Zox and Leon Berkowitz, proto-minimalists such as Ward Jackson and Tadaaki Kuwayama, or opti-color painters like Mario Yrisarry and Rakuko Naito – all these missed inclusion in “The Responsive Eye” for reasons other than the relative “opticality” of their work itself or its presence on the New York gallery scene, reasons unknown to us now. In conjunction with works by friends and colleagues of theirs who happened to be included in the MOMA show, the art of these eight painters looks right at home. Together, this selection makes as strong a case for the continuing – perhaps even renewed – vitality of optical abstraction as our last selection did. This is not to beleaguer or even second-guess poor Bill Seitz from beyond the grave. Indeed, this series of “Op” shows honors the MOMA show as a ground-breaking phenomenon, if not in the art world per se, then among the wider public, bringing to their attention an artistic approach that was having an impact in galleries – and, heavily as a result of “The Responsive Eye,” would have an impact on popular taste for much of the next decade. We only wanted to speak up on behalf of those Op-worthy artists who, for whatever reasons, didn’t make Seitz’s cut. No less celebrated in their day, they are no less worthy of reconsideration in ours; and, seen with their peers’, their art seems entirely of a piece. Los Angeles May 2015

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Julian Stanczak Tactile See-Through, 1974 Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”

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Ed Mieczkowski Extrend, 1964 Acrylic on board, 40” x 36”

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Richard Anuszkiewicz List, 1968 Acrylic on masonite, 48” x 48”

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Karl Benjamin #43, 1965 Oil on canvas, 25.5” x 51”

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Tadasky C188, 1965 Acrylic on canvas, 57” x 57”

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Oli Sihvonen Untitled (230), 1968 Oil on canvas, 87” x 58”

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Lorser Feitelson Untitled (September 22), 1964 Acrylic on canvas, 60” x 60”

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Mario Yrisarry Summer, 1965 Acrylic on canvas, 77” x 68”

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Larry Zox Untitled, 1975 Acrylic on canvas, 22” x 60”

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Leo Valledor Together, 1968 Oil on canvas, 48” x 68”

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Tony DeLap Miss Mystic, 2004-2012 Acrylic on aluminum, wood, Hi-D foam, 27.5” x 35” x 3” (Courtesy Charlotte Jackson Fine Art)

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Thomas Downing Kissii, 1972 Acrylic on canvas, 50” x 50”

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Larry Poons Untitled, 1960 Acrylic on canvas, 40” x 40”

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Leroy Lamis Wall Relief #15, 1975 Plexiglass, 24” x 24.5” x 2.25”

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Charles Hinman Docking In Space, 1970 Shaped canvas, 28.75” x 56.5” x 5”

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Peter Stroud Green Circumvent with Yellow Green, 1963 Emulsion on wood, 60” x 60”

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Paul Reed Barcelona #4, 1965 Acrylic on canvas, 60” x 72”

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Ernst Benkert Untitled, 1965 Ink on paper, 12� x 12�

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Ward Jackson Parallel Point #1, ca 1963 Acrylic on canvas, 37” x 37”

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Francis Hewitt Pursed, 1964 Acrylic on canvas on masonite, 24” x 24”

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Mon Levinson Multilayered print from Rosa Esman’s New York Ten Portfolio, 1964 Acetate film layers and paper, 14.5” x 11.75”

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Rakuko Naito RN1468-64, 1964 Acrylic and metallic acrylic on linen, 68” x 68”

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Leon Berkowitz Oblique #6, 1968 Oil on canvas, 114” x 37”

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Tadaaki Kuwayama TK4935-1/2-’65, 1965 Acrylic on canvas, 35.5” x 35.5”

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Francis Celentano Poniard Series, 1965 Acrylic on masonite, 34” x 42”

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John Goodyear John Cage Throws a Fish Into The Piano, 1960 Enamel, acrylic on wood, 72” x 35” x 1”

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EXHIBITION CHECKLIST

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RICHARD ANUSZKIEWICZ (1930) List, 1968 Acrylic on masonite 48” x 48”

KARL BENJAMIN (1925-2012) #43, 1965 Oil on canvas 25.5” x 51”

LORSER FEITELSON (1898-1978) Untitled (September 22), 1964 Acrylic on canvas 60” x 60”

JOHN GOODYEAR (1930) John Cage Throws a Fish Into The Piano, 1960 Enamel, acrylic on wood 72” x 35” x 1”

ERNST BENKERT (1928-2010) Untitled, 1965 Ink on paper 12” x 12”

FRANCIS HEWITT (1936-1992) Pursed, 1964 Acrylic on canvas on masonite 24” x 24”

LEON BERKOWITZ (1919-1987) Oblique #6, 1968 Oil on canvas 114” x 37”

CHARLES HINMAN (1932) Docking In Space, 1970 Shaped canvas 28.75” x 56.5” x 5”

FRANCIS CELENTANO (1928) Poniard Series, 1965 Acrylic on masonite 34” x 42”

TONY DELAP (1927) Miss Mystic, 2004-2012 Acrylic on aluminum, wood, Hi-D foam 27.5” x 35” x 3”

WARD JACKSON (1928-2004) Parallel Point #1, ca 1963 Acrylic on canvas 37” x 37”

TADAAKI KUWAYAMA (1932) TK4935-1/2-’65, 1965 Acrylic on canvas 35.5” x 35.5”

(Courtesy Charlotte Jackson Fine Art)

THOMAS DOWNING (1928-1985) Kissii, 1972 Acrylic on canvas 50” x 50”

LEROY LAMIS (1925-2010) Wall Relief #15, 1975 Plexiglass 24” x 24.5” x 2.25”


MON LEVINSON (1926-2014) Multilayered print from Rosa Esman’s New York Ten Portfolio, 1964 Acetate film layers and paper 14.5” x 11.75”

ED MIECZKOWSKI (1929) Extrend, 1964 Acrylic on board 40” x 36”

RAKUKO NAITO (1935) RN1468-64, 1964 Acrylic and metallic acrylic on linen 68” x 68”

LARRY POONS (1937) Untitled, 1960 Acrylic on canvas 40” x 40”

JULIAN STANCZAK (1928) Tactile See-Through, 1974 Acrylic on canvas 36” x 36”

PETER STROUD (1921) Green Circumvent with Yellow Green, 1963, Emulsion on wood 60” x 60”

TADASKY (1935) C188, 1965 Acrylic on canvas 57” x 57”

LEO VALLEDOR (1936-1989) Together, 1968 Oil on canvas 48” x 68”

PAUL REED (1919) Barcelona #4, 1965 Acrylic on canvas 60” x 72”

MARIO YRISARRY (1933) Summer, 1965 Acrylic on canvas 77” x 68”

OLI SIHVONEN (1921-1991) Untitled (230), 1968 Oil on canvas 87” x 58”

LARRY ZOX (1937-2006) Untitled, 1975 Acrylic on canvas 22” x 60”

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DAVID RICHARD GALLERY

DAVID RICHARD GALLERY

544 South Guadalupe Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501 | p (505) 983-9555 www.DavidRichardGallery.com | info@DavidRichardGallery.com

Op Infinitum: 'The Responsive Eye' Fifty Years After  

This is the second presentation in a four-part series that critically reviews and reconsiders “The Responsive Eye”, the seminal “Op Art” exh...

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