Black, White, and Grey” 1972

0042 Black White Grey 1972

Acrylic on canvas. 8′ x 18′.

Collection of the artist.  This was the 3rd of my big paintings of the 70s.  It is evident that I was very into Stella at that time.  I was driven by the idea that painting like sculpture could actually be constructive in concept and actuality.  As an undergraduate I had a minor in philosophy so through Stella I got interested in Wittgenstein.  No, its not like I could understand the Tractatus let alone read it!  My favorite college course was logic and before majoring in art I was interested in Russell and the Positivists. I was drawn to the magical idea of a verifiability principle and the idea that one could construct an object that was generated logically from the shape and size of the field.  I was beguiled by the basic ideas of minimalism.  I had reduced (in my mind) the language of my paintings within rectangles to; i forms, L forms*, U forms and O (being a square) forms. My painting were so much based on logic at that time that I was using a program called Wilbur to plot the maximum # of possibilities for a given set of forms generating inward from a given field.  I was kind of nuts – but it was fun nuts.  I thought I was on the edge of finding the holy grail of art. Ha! I would go into this empty computer center at 2:00 am and have them load up my punch cards.  Then I’d sit there as the lone professor in the lab and I’d see and hear the Univacs spinning their tape and I’d look and see the single tape spinning among the 20 still machines and I’d know that was “my” idea loading over there.  Sounds crazy but those were very exciting times.

* L forms could be either a Romanized L or a mirror image

I still love this kind of thinking even though most of my work is not driven by formal thinking.  One of my favorite novels is Umberto Ecco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana.  After reading it I went out an got his A Theory of Semiotics …….. thinking I could “learn” semiotics!  Forget that – – way above my pay grade. OK that’s it!  It took me longer to write this thing than to paint that painting.



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