Supports / Surfaces: Theory & Matter

Claude Viallat, 1970/045, 1970, tint on beige sheet, 85.75 x 67 inches (courtesy
Claude Viallat, 1970/045, 1970, tint on beige sheet, 85.75 x 67 inches (courtesy of Cherry and Martin)

Raphael Rubinstein considers a resurgence of interest in the Supports/Surfaces movement in the context of two recent exhibitions: Supports/Surfaces at CANADA Gallery, New York and Supports/Surfaces is Alive and Well at Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles.

Rubinstein writes that "these shows have been very well received. That fact raises a question: Why now? Why is there an interest in Supports/Surfaces more than 40 years on? The primary reason has to do, I believe, with the existence of clear affinities between Supports/Surfaces and the work of many young American artists. The kindred impulse—to deconstruct painting, to turn to the everyday world for materials, to favor process over image, to reject the brush but not painting itself, to foreground materiality—is seen everywhere in current abstraction... I suspect that another reason the American art world is more hospitable to Supports/Surfaces now is because of the recent rediscovery of 1960s and '70s works by U.S. artists who shared the French interest in unstretched paintings and innovative processes and materials. (I'm thinking, here, of Alan Shields, Howardena Pindell and Al Loving.)"