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The Casualist Tendency

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Sharon Butler expands on her influential 2011 Brooklyn Rail essay The New Casualists.

Butler writes: "The Casualist impulse has yielded compositionally awkward work that may seem humble and self-deprecating, and may employ 'hobbyist' pre-fab materials like pre-stretched canvases and canvas board. Though often small in scale, the work might spill into three dimensions because the stretchers and support aesthetically loom just as large as the paint itself. The most compelling Casualist work has an anti-heroic, offhand feel and ostensibly shows little attention to craft or detail… Casualist pieces seem quickly made, self-amused, and untethered to the rigorously structured propositions and serial strategies favored by artists of previous eras. This is not to say that the new approach is unserious or heedless of art’s history and evolution. But it embraces and memorializes unpredictable encounters in the studio in ways that their predecessors did not, and may regard the traditional avenue of creating a brand and working it for forty years as unadventurous. By integrating painting – a traditional form – with a more improvisational and conceptual contemporary sensibility, Casualism presents a principled alternative that stretches and even distorts traditional boundaries but does not ignore them."

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