Al Held: Physicality & Detail

(detail of canvas edge) Al Held, Ivan the Terrible, 1961, acrylic on canvas 144
(detail of canvas edge) Al Held, Ivan the Terrible, 1961, acrylic on canvas 144 x 114 inches (photo: Paul Behnke)

Paul Behnke blogs about the striking physicality of Al Held's Alphabet Paintings, on view at Cheim & Read, New York through April 20, 2013.

Behnke writes: "an aspect of the work that was particularly meaningful to me - the edges of the canvas where they wrap around the stretchers. These random details are important to me for a couple of reasons. First of all, the haphazard smudges and smears emphasize the painterliness of these humongous works. This was my first look at these paintings 'in the flesh' and I was surprised at the extent to which the artist's hand was evident. The sides of the canvas, along with brush marks, and the often thick, clotted, and revised surfaces force the paintings to inhabit a no - man's land between minimal, hard edged, conceptually driven work and a more improvazational approach most often associated with the New York School that brings process to the fore."