Alfonso Ossorio: Elective Affinities

Alfonso Ossorio, Couple and Progeny, 1951, ink, wax, watercolor and cut paper mo
Alfonso Ossorio, Couple and Progeny, 1951, ink, wax, watercolor and cut paper mounted on black paper, 30 x 22 inches (Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York. Gift of Edward F. Dragon)

David Carrier reviews Angels, Demons, and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio, Dubuffet at the Parrish Art Museum, on view through October 27, 2013.

Carrier writes: "That Pollock and Dubuffet can happily cohabit as near equals is, of course no surprise. What here is up for grabs is Ossorio’s artistic relationship with these two modernist masters. He tends to place figurative elements or shapes not unlike Dubuffet’s in a Pollockesque all over field... You have the sense, rather, that driven by his awareness of the greatness of his friends’ art, Ossorio was experimenting restlessly without ever achieving real resolution. So, for example, Red Family (1951) uses a figure like some Dubuffets; and Head (1951) employs a drawn field akin to some of Pollock’s weaker pictures. But where Pollock mastered a language of personal abstraction, evidenced in his great little painting on paper Number 22A, 1948; and Dubuffet immersed figures in flatted fields, Ossorio, a gifted eclectic always remains uncomfortably suspended between abstraction and the figure."