Action and Chance: A New Look at Drip

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ACTION and CHANCE a new look at


ACTION and CHANCE a new look at

drip W e i n s t e i n G a l l e r y

This book has been published on the occasion of the exhibition Action and Chance: A New Look at Drip at Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco, August 24–September 21, 2013. Weinstein Gallery 383 Geary Street San Francisco, California 94102 © 2013 Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco Publication concept and direction by Kendy Genovese and Jasmine Moorhead Edited and produced by Jasmine Moorhead Artwork photography and exhibition website by Nicholas Pishvanov Designed by Linda Corwin, Avantgraphics Text set in Minion Pro and DinSchrift Printed by Calitho, Concord, California Printed in the United States of America Front and back covers: Rolph Scarlett. Untitled [RS0323] c.1952 Oil on masonite 26½ x 48 inches Inside front and back covers: Enrico Donati. Decalcomania (81) and Decalcomania (82) (Diptych) 1944 Oil tempera on paper Each piece: 16 x 12½ inches Artist photos courtesy of Estate of Lawrence Kupferman (pp. 8 and 26); Estate of Gerome Kamrowski (p. 14); Estate of Enrico Donati (p. 38); Lucid Art Foundation (p. 66).

Citations: p. 3: Harold Rosenberg, “The American Action Painters,” Art News (Dec. 1952); p. 4: Gordon Onslow Ford quoted in Maria Luisa Borrás, “Confidences,” Gordon Onslow Ford: Seeing in Depth (Santiago de Compostela: Fundación Eugenia Granell, 1998), p. 221; p. 5: Gordon Onslow Ford, Creation (Basel: Galerie Schreiner, 1978), p. 36; p. 5: Martica Sawin, Gordon Onslow Ford: Paintings and Works on Paper (New York: Francis M. Naumann, 2010), p. 9; p. 6: Gerome Kamrowski, letter to B.H. Friedman, cited in Jeffrey Wechsler, “Surrealism’s Automatic Painting Lesson,” Art News (April 1977), p. 45; p. 6: Phyllis Braff, Review of exhibition at Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, The New York Times, June 30, 1996; p. 7: Sawin, Gerome Kamrowski: Abstract Surrealism into Abstract Expressionism (San Francisco: Weinstein Gallery, 2005), p. 4; p. 8: Kootz, letter to The New York Times, printed as part of article by Edward Alden Jewell, “The Problem of Seeing,” The New York Times, August 10, 1941; p. 12: Rosenberg, op. cit.; p. 14: Interview with the artist, 1993; p. 14: Wechsler, op. cit., p. 45; pp. 14–15: Martica Sawin, “ ‘The Third Man,’ or Automatism American Style,” Art Journal (Fall 1988), p. 198; p. 26: M.S., The Art Digest, November 15, 1949; p. 26: Interview with the artist, April 1977; p. 27: Interview with the artist, August 1978; p. 38, both quotes: Interview with the artist by Forest Selvig, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1968; p. 39: Theodore Wolff, Enrico Donati: Surrealism and Beyond (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1996), p. 61; p. 49: Interview with the artist by Forest Selvig; p. 52: Scarlett quoted in Rolph Scarlett with Harriet Tannin, The Baroness, the Mogul, & the Forgotten History of the First Guggenheim Museum (New York: Midmarch Arts Press, 2003), pp. 81-82; p. 52: Judith Nasby, Rolph Scarlett: Painter, Designer, Jeweller (Montreal and Kingston: McGillQueen’s University Press, 2004), p. 82; p. 53: Scarlett quoted in Scarlett and Tannin, op. cit., p. 85; p. 59: Ibid., p. 82; p. 66: Harvey L. Jones, Gordon Onslow Ford: Retrospective Exhibition (Oakland: Oakland Museum of California, 1980), p. 11; p. 66: Onslow Ford quoted in Andreas Neufert, Gordon Onslow Ford: Paintings (Munich: Höcherl Verlag, 1994), p. 74; p. 67: Onslow Ford quoted in Josefina Alix, “Transparent Mountains, Luminous Lands,” Seeing in Depth, op. cit., p. 204.; p. 72: Onslow Ford, Creation, op. cit., pp. 46–47.

“At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act—rather than as a space in which to reproduce, re-design, analyze, or ‘express’ an object, actual or imagined. What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event.” —Harold Rosenberg “The American Action Painters,” 1952


“In New York both my coulages and Matta’s painting, with its gesturing and powerful colouring, stood out. But it was our technique that had the greatest effect: automatism, the idea that you could paint freely. . . . Automatism’s influence on Action Painting was decisive: the action became a kind of confrontation between the painter, the painting, and the canvas.”—Gordon Onslow Ford 4

w i th o u t b o u n d s “Ripolin enamel was poured onto the canvas. The colours ran into each other without mixing. The enamel dried first on the surface. In places the dry surface was removed to reveal a different image in the wet paint underneath…. This paint-pouring technique I call coulage.” —Gordon Onslow Ford, Creation


is interest in purely formal values and existing styles is best demonstrated by the radically experimental canvases that he created in 1939 by pouring paint directly from cans of fast drying Ripolin enamel onto canvases laid flat on the floor. . . . While most of his coulages disappeared from his Paris studio at the end of the Occupation, two were among the paintings that he shipped to the U.S. in 1940 and could well have been seen in New York by his young American friends such as William Baziotes. . . . Coincidentally in 1941, Baziotes, wanting to try out a new quick-drying lacquer paint, experimented on collaborative drip paintings with Jackson Pollock and Gerome Kamrowski.”—Martica Sawin

Gordon Onslow Ford

Without Bounds 1939 Enamel on canvas 28 x 36 inches


a c o l l a b o rat i o n “Baziotes was enthusiastically talking about the new freedom and techniques of painting and noticing the quart cans of lacquer asked if he could use some to show Pollock how the paint could be spun around. . . [Using] a canvas I had been pouring on. . . Bill then began to throw and drip the white paint on the canvas. He handed the palette knife to Jackson, and Jackson with his intense concentration was flipping the paint with abandon. . . .There was a palette nearby and soon several brushes were wielded by us to develop into a very free kind of activity.”—Gerome Kamrowski


principal interest was finding a freer way of applying paint to go further with the psychic automatism that they had been recently discussing with the Surrealist painter Matta. They tried dripping, pouring and flinging the loosely flowing material. The result is a dark surface bearing bold biomorphic shapes activated by overlapping lines. . . inviting the eye through a maze of visual discovery.” —Phyllis Braff, The New York Times, 1996

Gerome Kamrowski, William Baziotes, Jackson Pollock

Collaborative Painting 1940–41 Oil and enamel on canvas 19¼ x 259/16 inches


“Kamrowski enjoyed telling of practicing automatism in the basement [of the Museum of Non-Objective Painting] using dark lacquer made from. . . worn out phonograph records. . . [leading] William Baziotes. . . to suggest to Jackson Pollock and Kamrowski that they experiment with this new medium. . . . All but one of these experiments were discarded when Kamrowski moved to another studio; the one that was saved has come to be regarded over the years as an embryonic symbol of the soon to emerge Abstract Expressionism.”—Martica Sawin


IN T R ODU C T ION “Under present circumstances the probability is that the future of painting lies in America. The pitiful fact is, however, that we offer little better than a geographical title to the position of world’s headquarters for art. . . . I have not seen one painter veer from his established course. I have not seen one attempt to experiment, to realize a new method of painting. Subject matter! That’s the only thing the galleries are showing. . . . Isn’t there a new way to reveal your ideas, American painters?” —Samuel Kootz, art dealer, letter to The New York Times, 1941


n June 1940, Gordon Onslow Ford found himself on an overcrowded ocean liner bound for New York City. The youngest recruit of André Breton’s Parisian Surrealist circle, he followed the exodus of the European avant-garde that had already begun at the onset of the war. Modern art was in exile. The American painter Kay Sage had arranged an invitation from the Committee to Preserve European Culture for the young Surrealist artist to lecture in the United States. Onslow Ford shipped his personal collection of paintings by Giorgio de Chirico, Yves Tanguy, and Roberto Matta, as well as two experimental paintings of his own, Space Web and Without Bounds (see page 4), which he had created in 1939 by pouring quick drying paint onto canvases spread flat across the floor. Like the fumage of Wolfgang Paalen or the decalcomania of Oscar Domínguez, this new technique called coulage became Onslow Ford’s signature contribution to automatism and secured his acceptance by Breton as a true Surrealist. Ironically, the title “Without Bounds” is rather prophetic as the call to arms the young American artists had been seeking. A generation of these painters, most of whom had come of age during the Great Depression, had begun to form an indignant resistance to the existing art of the day. They rejected the political rhetoric of regionalism, the romantic nostalgia of social realism, and the utopian escape

Lawrence Kupferman, c. 1949


Enrico Donati Untitled 1944 (detail, see p. 44)

promised by geometric abstraction. Instead, they felt a desperate need to find a new subject matter and style that could fully express the depths of their individual inner experiences and provide meaning to the whole of human existence in the face of the atrocities of war. In the winter of 1941, in a packed classroom at the New School for Social Research, the twentynine-year-old Onslow Ford began his series of four lectures titled “Surrealist Painting: An Adventure into Human Consciousness.” The audience was a mix of recent European avant-garde refugees and the young Americans who were anxious to hear, for the first time, a practicing member explain this seemingly inexplicable art. Accounts of the attendees vary, but are said to have included Matta, Tanguy, Sage, Kurt Seligmann, Robert Motherwell, David Hare, Helen Phillips, Peter Busa, and William Baziotes. According to Stanley William Hayter, the room was overflowing and also included Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock. Motherwell recalled, “He demonstrated automatism on the chalkboard, in a most unexpected way. Onslow Ford began with lines seemingly at random and very rapidly drawn. At a certain critical moment, with the addition

of several more lines, to my stupefaction, there appeared a typical classical de Chirico before one’s eye. It never would have occurred to me that a de Chirico was made automatically. . . .” Jimmy Ernst, who also attended the lectures, summed up the reaction of the Americans: “He seemed to be saying for the first time ‘Why not?’ rather than ‘it has to be.’ We were not getting the last word from Europe, but rather the possibility of a further horizon that implied individualism.” The catalyst the Americans had wanted and needed was perhaps fueled by these lectures of Onslow Ford. The epiphany of a burgeoning American avant-garde was defined by their embrace of automatism. It was spontaneous, irrational yet highly controlled, at times mystical and yet drew on the spirit of the moment. However, just as the young painters had rejected social realism, these painters still resisted Surrealism’s dogmatic preoccupation with dreams and alchemical symbology and instead used the technique to create something new, heroic, and unmistakably American. As Jackson Pollock explained, “New needs need new techniques. . . the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture.” Gerome Kamrowski Figure in Blue 1940 (detail, see p. 15)


Lawrence Kupferman Microscopic Formations 1949 (detail, see p. 37)

Gerome Kamrowski was one of the first Americans to embrace automatic techniques in the late 1930s and had already begun experimenting with drip painting as early as 1940. Kamrowski, like many artists of the day, worked for the WPA, where he became friends with Baziotes and was assigned to the same mural project as Pollock. In the winter of 1940–41, Baziotes was espousing automatism to Pollock and brought him to the nearby studio of Kamrowski. The three men first used a painting of Kamrowski’s that had not been going well, then spread several more canvases across the studio floor and began an evening of experimentation. They poured directly from cans. They dripped from sticks and brushes. They threw the pigment in the air. The single surviving collaborative painting from that evening (see page 7) has been exhibited widely in museums and is one of Pollock’s earliest surviving drip paintings. It is considered one of the earliest exponents of the emancipation of automatism in the hands of the American artists, presaging what Harold Rosenberg would call “action painting” and what the world would 10

eventually know as Abstract Expressionism. The name of Jackson Pollock is well known, and we understand the undeniable impact he had on drip painting. Yet many of us are unfamiliar with the names Gordon Onslow Ford, Gerome Kamrowski, or many of the other lesser-known artists who played an important and influential role in the story of drip painting. Action and chance are the dual, and paradoxical, impulses that make a drip painting a “drip.” Perhaps, though, it is time to consider “action” and “chance”—these key elements of what is considered the emblematically American style of painting— from another perspective in which they serve as the defining elements that ultimately determine an artist’s destiny and place in history. This is to say that action—the personal choices and predilections of an artist—and chance—the unpredictable elements beyond one’s immediate control—may have as much to do with the artist’s historic success and recognition as the artwork he creates. After his influential lectures, Onslow Ford was unwittingly being cast in the role of surrealist “guru” and spokesperson. “I was exhilarated, but feeling pestered. People kept dropping in, asking me questions, asking me to lecture,” he recounted. Seeking his own artistic and spiritual path, he chose to move with his new wife Jacqueline Johnson to a remote village in Mexico. He had arrived in New York only fourteen months earlier but would not remain long enough to become identified with this new movement. The death of Gerome Kamrowski’s first wife less than two years after their marriage in 1945, left the artist with the responsibilities of being a single parent and the realities of raising his young son in New York City. Given the challenges of this unforeseen tragedy, Kamrowski accepted a teaching position at the University of Michigan and moved to Ann Arbor. Lawrence Kupferman may well have been one of the great technical innovators of early

Abstract Expressionism. Although he showed at the influential Betty Parsons Gallery in 1946 and was likewise included with his more famous contemporaries in twelve Whitney annuals from 1946–1963, his decision to remain in Boston would historically associate him with the expressionist school of that city, instead of the first generation of the New York School. Enrico Donati would not be told what to paint. He also exhibited at the Betty Parsons Gallery with Pollock and Rothko and was included in both the Ninth Street and Whitney Annuals. However, when asked by his newest dealer to “paint more blue paintings,” he redefined his trajectory. “I moved out when I was young and I had a fairly fast success. But then I realized that if I was going to be an artist. . . I was going to have to think more and take it easy. . . and try to have my work move up my name even if it went slowly. But the idea to suddenly become a master and make monstrosities was scaring me to death. I’d prefer to grow slowly and probably never die a master, but at least do the things I want to do and be happy.” Rolph Scarlett enjoyed the patronage and the praise of the Baroness Hilla Rebay. As director of the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, she provided him with a stipend, a teaching position, Rolph Scarlett Heart Drip c.1950–55 (detail, see p. 58)

Gordon Onslow Ford In Clover 1962 Parle’s paint on canvas 72½ x 50½ inches

and purchased sixty paintings for the museum’s collection. However, when Solomon Guggenheim died and Rebay was forced to step down as head of the museum by the Guggenheim family, Scarlett’s paintings and position in history became collateral damage in the drama of a Guggenheim power struggle. This exhibition is offered as a counterpoint to the oft-repeated singular history of this moment by exhibiting five artists who by chance or deliberate action were not fully written into the canon of drip painting in America, but who nonetheless played a significant role in its discovery and expression in those crucial formative years. Each of them took the drip technique and made it his own. This was the action. It is only due to the chance circumstances that their work is not better known. This catalogue lets the words of these men and the words of the critics speak for themselves, and we hope that this gives a more complete vision of the true history of the time and the place of these artists in it. 11

“A painting that is an act is inseparable from the biography of the artist. The painting itself is a ‘moment’ in the adulterated mixture of his life—whether ‘moment’ means, in one case, the actual minutes taken up with spotting the canvas or, in another, the entire duration of a lucid drama conducted in sign language. The act-painting is of the same metaphysical substance as the artist’s existence. The new painting has broken down every distinction between art and life.”

—Harold Rosenberg “The American Action Painters,” 1952


Gerome Kamrowski Lawrence Kupferman Enrico Donati Rolph Scarlett Gordon Onslow Ford


“If I would have stayed in New York I’d either be very rich or I’d be dead.”—GK

Gerome Kamrowski (1914–2004)


amrowski was one of the first American artists to become involved, deeply and very early on, with automatism. By 1939 he had seen and experimented with many automatic techniques, including frottage, fumage, and flowing paint. . . . Kamrowski’s relative lack of fame today may be due to the fact that by 1946 he had moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take a teaching position. . . .”—Jeffrey Wechsler, Art News, 1977

There was a high risk factor in working marvelous. Sometimes things would get It was a period of adventure, and you were 14

Figure in Blue 1940 Oil and enamel on panel 19 x 15½ inches

this way; you would lose things and then, everything wouldn’t be overly labored and sometimes you’d just be reinventing the wheel. not particularly interested in turning out a commodity. . . .”—GK 15

Early 1949 Enamel on canvas 36 x 19 inches


Figure (Caveman) 1941 Enamel on masonite 16 x 12 inches



Spanish Garden 1949 Latex and oil on canvas 36 x 24 inches

Ballet Figure 1948 Enamel on canvas 30 x 15 inches



Prisoner c.1950 Mixed media on panel 23 x 17½ inches

Patterns 1953 Impasto on jute 17 x 10 inches


scena campestre 1954 Casein on canvas 48 x 72 inches


yellow set 1958–60 Mixed media on canvas 48 x 108 inches


Surfaces 1958 Acrylic on canvas 12 x 15 inches



ompelling and distinguished are the words that describe the vibrant and highly individual watercolors and oils of Lawrence Kupferman, who is currently having his first New York one-man show in two years. . . . Employing at times a thick impasto of violent pigment and nervous quivering linear design, Kupferman achieves intensely beautiful textural qualities.”—The Art Digest, 1949

Lawrence Kupferman (1909–1982)


“Throughout my career Boston was a mental and physical prison in which genuineness and spontaneity in art was absent. I summered in Provincetown for artistic sanity. Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, William Baziotes, Leo Manzu, Byron Brown and I hung out together in an invigorating atmosphere of rediscovery. . . . [A]nd if I had gone to New York with all of them. . . I probably would have been just as famous as they are. They told me to leave Boston. My career and art have suffered because I made a mistake about where to live. No one. . . looks at art for art’s sake. It’s all about where you live. . . Isn’t that pathetic?”—LK

Marine Phosphorescent Night 1947 Watercolor, casein, and ink on paper 27½ x 21½ inches

“Around 1941, I started to pour paint onto canvases in Provincetown. Jackson Pollock came into my studio to observe how I let paint take on a liquid life or path of its own. Those ethereal poured paintings may have stimulated Pollock’s more frantic splashed-on techniques. I want paint to find its own way on the canvas, just as if it were a person discovering his or her own way in life.”—LK


Angel 1951 Oil on panel 46 x 24 inches


Tidal Seascape 1949 Oil on panel 18 x 24 inches



Marine Life 1947 Ink, casein, and watercolor on paper 27½ x 21ž inches

Marine Forms 1947 Oil on panel 36 x 24 inches


Search in the Night 1951 Watercolor on paper 207/8 x 28Âź inches


Marine Creatures of the Tide 1949 Watercolor, casein, and ink on paper 21Âź x 29 inches

Minutiae 1947 Watercolor, casein, and ink on paper 22 x 28 inches


Microscopic Flow of Life 1949 Watercolor, casein, and ink on paper 22 x 29¼ inches

Microscopic Marine Construction 1950 Watercolor, casein, and ink on paper 21¼ x 29¼ inches


Jeweled Creatures of the Ocean Tide 1949 Oil on panel 20 x 30 inches


tidal dawn 1948 Oil on panel 24 x 30 inches


Microscopic Formations 1949 Oil on panel 18 x 24 inches


“I used to dilute the oil paint in turpentine and pour it on the canvas flat and then I would direct the flow of the paint on the canvas allowing things to happen. . . . All of this was accidental and I had lost track completely, let’s say, of any intellectual feeling in back of what I wanted to create. It was just a momentary period in which I let myself go.”—ED

Enrico Donati (1909–2008)

“I was connected with a Surrealist group in Paris. And then I became part of the Abstract Expressionist school in New York. After that I just went on my own. . . there will always be a movement, let’s say, that people will follow. I personally believe more in being an individualist than being a follower.”—ED 38


he results were startling, especially when Donati brought all elements of this approach—including the spatial—into play. For instance. . . while taking full advantage of the ‘drip, blob, and spatter’ method used by Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell, among others, [Donati] went one dramatic step further by employing these devices not against the kind of flat, implied space that existed in Pollock’s and Motherwell’s canvases but within the infinite, clearly defined atmospheric space also found in the works of such Surrealists as Dali and Tanguy. Even when these dribblings and hurlings of paint sit threedimensionally atop the picture plane, and there is little, if any, depthward spatial movement, the effect is still identifiably Surrealist.” —Theodore Wolff

La Jetée 1952 Mixed media on canvas 36¼ x 30¼ inches


Forget Me Not 1949 Mixed media on canvas 8 x 50 inches

Explanation 1949–50 Oil on canvas 9 x 64 inches

The Grand Tour 1949–50 Mixed media on canvas 8 x 50 inches


Spaziale 21 1949–50 Mixed media on canvas 30 x 26 inches


Anometer 1948 Oil on canvas 40 x 50 inches


Untitled 1944 Oil on canvas 15他 x 11他 inches


Spaziale XXIII 1948 Mixed media on canvas 52 x 60 inches


Decalcomania (41) 1947 Oil tempera on paper 6 x 13ž inches

Decalcomania (60) 1943 Oil tempera on paper 9½ x 13½ inches


Decalcomania (6) 1947 Oil tempera on paper 14 x 13½ inches



Untitled (letter) (ED0442) c.1950s Mixed media on paper 13½ x 9½ inches

Untitled (letter) (ED0439) c.1950s Mixed media on paper 16¾ x 13¾ inches

Untitled (letter) (ED0445) c.1950s Mixed media on paper 16¾ x 13¾ inches

“I made a series of letters. . . each addressed to a different friend. I wrote a letter to Matta, as well as to Jackson Pollock, to Duchamp, and to other friends. And by the character and the style of the calligraphy one can recognize the person to whom I wrote the letter that I never sent. . . . I took just regular melted tar and then poured it on canvas and then airbrushed it on the top and obtained some very strange effects.”­—ED



Untitled (letter) (ED0444) c.1950s Mixed media on paper 16他 x 13他 inches

Untitled (letter) (ED0515) c.1950s Enamel on paper 15 x 11Âź inches


“One Saturday morning in my studio on Irving Place, I was feeling bored. . . .I had been working with great concentration on a geometric non-objective, when on a whim I got out some cans of enamel paint, blue, red, green, white, and more. I put a painting I didn’t care about on the floor, then punched holes in the cans and dribbled the stuff over the various things on the canvas. My student asked if I was out of my head. I said I was having a helluva good time.”—RS

Rolph Scarlett (1889–1984)


carlett referred to his paintings from the late 1940s and early 1950s as lyrical non-objectives. . . . In their calligraphic lushness, these paintings are Scarlett’s reaction to the emergence of abstract expressionism. However, their agitated, gestural brushwork is his emotional response to the horrors of World War II.” —Judith Nasby


Yellow Drip c.1950 Oil on panel 24 x 29½ inches

“Now, one comment only about the petty treatment I received. Through the years Mr. Guggenheim had bought about sixty of my paintings. . . and I was proud to have them in this wonderful collection. However after the death of Mr. Guggenheim, my pictures . . . were all put in storage and during these many years, never shown. This caused me great loss of prestige and loss of artistic recognition as well as financial hardship.”—RS 53

Untitled (RS0484) c.1950–55 Oil on panel 32ž x 47 inches


Lyrical Green c.1951 Oil on panel 33他 x 41他 inches


Untitled (RS0498) c.1950–55 Oil on canvas 30 x 28 inches


Untitled (RS0500) c.1950–55 Oil on masonite 23 x 36 inches



Heart Drip c.1950–55 Oil on masonite 48 x 30 inches

“When the man came from the Whitney Museum, I showed him my latest geometrics. The new ‘lyrical’ one I had dribbled was on the side. He asked if it was new, and when I said yes, he chose that one for the show. When the show opened my painting was featured in the newspaper with its own write-up. The critics in the Times and other newspapers had chosen it for discussion. So what began as a joke and an accident in a mild way became quite famous.”—RS



Black Drip c.1951 Oil on board 34他 x 227/8 inches

Untitled (RS0489) c.1950–55 Oil and paper collage on canvas 19¾ x 15½ inches


Untitled (RS0483) c.1950–55 Oil on masonite 23½ x 47½ inches


Untitled (RS0482) c.1950–55 Oil on panel 29ž x 22 inches


Untitled (RS0323) c.1952 Oil on masonite 26½ x 48 inches


Gordon Onslow Ford (1912–2003)


n the mid-1950s there was no paint available. . . that had the speed of application, the covering power or the flexibility to allow [Onslow Ford] to paint freely, black upon white. . . . At Gordon’s request, William C. Parle at the California Ink Company in Berkeley began work on formulating a new paint which would meet the demands of this new approach to painting. When this paint, which the artist called Parle’s paint after its inventor, was perfected in 1958 it was the forerunner of various water-based polyvinyl or acrylic paints that are so widely used today.”—Harvey L. Jones, Oakland Museum of California


“Well, the choice was whether to go back to Paris or to New York and be with people, or to come to the West Coast and be in the country. Jacqueline and I both chose the country. And I was in the middle of a personal experience in which no one could really help. I just had to go on working and discovering on my own. I wasn’t ready to come out into the world or show anything. I just wanted to be in peace and to work. And so we came to California.“ —GOF

“My whole being is concentrated on the line, dot or form I am making. I am that line, dot or form; all other thoughts disappear.” —GOF

Live Rock 1961 Parle’s paint on canvas 70 x 38 inches


In Wonder 1961 Parle’s paint on canvas 69½ x 28 inches


Burning Water 1959 Parle’s paint on paper on canvas 29 x 44 inches


Untitled c.1955–65 Acrylic on paper on canvas Image: 36¼ x 71¾ inches


“Paintings that express the search without hesitation always remain inspiring. A masterpiece can happen at any stage along the way. Some painters reach their peak while young, some while old, some in one world, some in another.“ —Gordon Onslow Ford, Creation


Gerome Kamrowski Lawrence Kupferman Enrico Donati Rolph Scarlett Gordon Onslow Ford

Weinstein Gallery

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