Tag Archives: Barnett Newman

Carl Morris, early paintings

“Ascending Forms,” Carl MorrisIt seems unfair to write about an art exhibition that has already been taken down, but that’s exactly what’s about to happen. Sorry!

For a variety of reasons I haven’t been able to get to Carl Morris: figure, word, light at Marylhurst University’s Art Gym until now. But I want to say a few things about it, and Morris will come up again on Art Scatter. All of us are interested in his work; I wrote the catalog essay for his retrospective at the Portland Art Museum in 1993; and just last summer I wrote about the sublime show of his 1959 History of Religions paintings at the University of Oregon’s art museum, organized by Lawrence Fong.

So, maybe you saw the show (the Saturday I went, the Art Gym was crowded), maybe you didn’t but wanted to, or maybe you just want to start jumping on the Carl Morris bandwagon with the rest of us.

The show was described to me originally by one of the behind-the-scenes organizers as a look at Carl’s work from the 1940s — those dark, symbolic, angular paintings, with their heavily painted surfaces. That sounded promising. These paintings hadn’t really been gathered together in numbers since an art museum show in the early ’50s. A chance to give them a good look again, struggle to reconnect to their iconography, test their power to affect us, place them in their context of Northwest painting, is an excellent idea.

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