December 20, 2007

Charles Shaw's precisionist geometries

Charles G. Shaw,” Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY. Through Dec. 22.
Manhattan Modern: The Life and Work of Charles Green Shaw, ” Archives of American Art, New York, NY. Through Feb. 7.

Roberta Smith reports in the NYTimes. "Like his writing, Shaw’s paintings paddle serenely through various painting genres, among them, Synthetic Cubism, Surrealism-tinged biomorphic abstraction and a more straight-edged, planar variety related to De Stijl and Precisionism. His colors feel filled in and fresco thin; their shapes often seem to hang like starched laundry from drawn lines that stretch edge to edge. Despite his numerous debts, Shaw managed to make some styles his own, and never more than when his work became cautiously physical. In 'Polygon No. 34,' a painted wood relief from around 1937, he starts out in the vicinity of Jean Arp, another friend, but his fluttery white shapes overseen by a sunlike red disc form a distinctly American landscape. At the same time he expanded one of his Precisionist geometries outward to the edges of a stepped panel, making one of the earliest shaped abstract paintings in this country, although it also resembles a Sienese altarpiece." Read more.

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