Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Artnet: “AL HELD RIP”

Particular Paradox 2 • 1999 • watercolor • 29.75x49.25 inches

Exactly one week ago artist Al Held passed away at his home in Umbrian countryside of Italy. The painter was found dead in the swimming pool by his gardener. The Chicago Tribune ran the AP story, and Fresh Paint picked it up. Artforum sports a well-hidden link and the crass headline is from Artnet’s tiny obituary crammed at the bottom of a news brief.

What are the rules of obit coverage? Is this a little? A lot? Average? None of the articles featured any images of his work, and were mainly just the AP story. While not a major artist in the "Janson of History of Art" sense, nor the big-name gossip sense, Al Held is of stature and significance. Enter Art or Idiocy? to provide a brief discussion of his work and a nice image.

Al Held, with Michele R. Heinrici from the Robert Miller Gallery at his exhibition Expanding Pictures: the Recent Paintings of Al Held at Boston University

Al Held made large old school geometric abstractions with a commitment to precise technique. At times quite amazing, his work sometimes looked like kitschy virtual reality-themed painting. Beginning with thick painterly abstraction along the lines of Lee Krasner, Franz Kline and the like, Held moved from New York to Paris at a time when everyone was going in the opposite direction. Over time Held’s work evolved into complex straight-edged visual constructions. Artists like Peter Halley, Jonathan Lasker and Franz Ackerman are somewhat indebted to Held’s work. Also is of note in this regard, is Al Held’s attention to thought and discovery outside of art:
    "Scientists talk about vast worlds and universes that the senses cannot experience. The purpose of the nonobjective artist is to create these images."
This fits right into Halley’s paintings about prisoners discussing semiotics via secret speaking tubes and Ackerman’s mental maps of travel and experience.

Variations on a theme:AP Al Held story v1.0AP Al Held Story v1.1

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

After I posted the AP story, found a very good obit over at the Guardian site.,,1539959,00.html