Al Held: Black and White Paintings

Al Held, B/W XI, 1968, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 138 inches (courtesy of Cheim &
Al Held, B/W XI, 1968, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 138 inches (courtesy of Cheim & Read)

Dennis Kardon reviews Al Held: Black and White Paintings at Cheim & Read, New York, on view through March 26, 2016.

Kardon observes that "the mammoth scale of the work in Black and White Paintings takes one off guard. On a page, on a screen, or even from a good distance, the whole painting can be apprehended, despite its internal contradictions. But up close, at the distance from which they were painted, our physical relationship to these colossi distorts all perception. White spaces become enlarged or compressed as we pass from one end of the canvas to the other, and angles change as we get closer or further away. The sense of the whole becomes elusive. Rather than objects, the paintings behave as fields, where relationships dominate instead of physicality."