Throughout his long career devoted to abstract painting, Howard Buchwald has inserted his art thoughtfully into key aesthetic debates defining his generation. Untitled reveals the degree to which the painter, like many others, explored both the “purity” and “object-hood” of art in the 1970s. As with works by Joseph Albers and Richard Anuszkiewicz, this painting features a square—in this case, one defined by rather thick white contours—whose dimensions stem from the picture plane. For art-minded viewers of the period, the composition’s flatly painted brown surface would have signified aesthetic “purity,” a quality that the physical division of the canvas boldly violates. This violation reveals the presumably “pure” picture plane to be an object subject to alteration. The composition’s wide stretcher bars, which enhance the painting’s physical presence, likewise assert Untitled’s “object-hood,” not unlike the more obviously sculptural works by Elizabeth Murray and Frank Stella.
abstract; square; lines
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