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1. ALFRED JENSEN, A FILM RINGED THE EARTH, 1961, 22"x 28"

2. ALFRED JENSEN, A FILM RINGED THE EARTH, DETAIL

"~I KNEW IT TO BE SO!" FORRES BESS . N. 1984 CENTER FOR THE ARTS.Y. 1984 . 8 WEST 8 STREET. MUHLENBERG COLLEGE. ALLENTOWN. 10011 MARCH 30-MAY2. 18104 MAY 18-JUNE 29.Y. N. PA.L CURATEDBY LAWRENCE LUHRING AND DAVID REED NEW YORK STUDIO SCHOOL.ALFRED J NSEN MYRON STOUT THEORY AND THE VISIONARY ..

Tom Hudspeth Lawrence Luhring David Reed . Richard Brown Baker. Jeanette Bonnier. Regina Bogat and Pace Gallery. Jr. Edith Gould. Margaret Lewis Furse. Edward R. Also Barbara Haskell and her staff at the Whitney Museum of American Art for their assistance with material on Forrest Bess. Brian Conley and Richard Stack for help with the essay. Suzy Thompson and Jack Tilton and his Gallery. Bruce Gagnier. Bill McNaught at the Archives of American Art and Bill Jensen and Margrit Lewczuk. Dr. Ofra She mesh and especially the students for their support. We would also like to thank the staff and administration of Muhlenberg College and the New York Studio School: Katherine Becker. This show is dedicated to them. Don Kimes. Rosalie Berkowitz. Richard Bellamy and Oil and Steel Gallery. Our thanks are extended to the following lenders who generously allowed us to borrow fragile works for this exhibition: Celia Ascher.. Special thanks are extended to the three artists and their work for the inspiration to undertake this exhibition. and Mrs.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We are extremely grateful to John Yau for his sensitive and informative essay. Roy Neuberger. Ltd. Bob Feldman and Parisol Press. Maria and Henry Feiwel. Downe.. David Reed wants to especially thank Lillian Ball and Emily Sorkin for help with the hanging and title of the show. Aaron Esman. Diana Manning. Jocelyn Carlson.

they aided in his research. Bess was soon convinced that immortality was attainable through androgyny. Crude images and abstract symbols have been quickly laid down in thick impasto. whatever it was. For the next 27 years he lived in a converted barge. Every angel is terrifying . which we still are just able to endure. Bess was born and died in Bay City. A precocious child. or an acute sensitivity to dreams. It should be reserved for the handful of solitary sojourners who have been both blessed and cursed with believing in the sanctity of the world. that in order to recover wholeness we needed to embody it. an affinity with Ancient Greek literature. he began copying illustrations from an encyclopedia. the focus of the work is on the structures of mythical thinking. and Myron Stout all managed to reach back to the ground we grow from. Alfred Jensen. and (closerto home) Albert Pinkham Ryder are among the few artists who actually deserve to be called visionary. a poor fishing village near the southeastern coast. Born during the decade prior to World War I. Vincent Van Gogh. Texas. but later dropped out. However. Ellis' book made Bess aware of aborigine rituals of individuation. The paintings convey Bess' urgent need to reestablish contact with original moment. indeed. he kept a notebook at his bedside and dutifully represented his dreams. They reveal the sources in so far as they can be known. The paintings were both a record and further proof he was on the right track. they shed the strictures of temporal time and recover the eternal-the timeless void from which the world sprang and to which it will return. Rather than attempting to evolve a stylistic uniqueness that would assure them a place in the art world. however. To this company I would add Forrest Bess. In 1947 he returned to his family's bait camp. flowed. These years were not wasted. and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us. William Blake. they joined no groups and spawned no imitators. if I cried out. At the age of four he had his first vision. all of which were done in oil on small canvases. During World War II Bess was in the Army Corps of Engineers and suffered a mental breakdown in which he hallucinated images he would later paint." To insure nothing interfered with his pipeline to the source of his images. Once they establish links between the microcosm and the macrocosm.Who. It was a concept that determined the course of his life. each other is the solitary path they took in order to clarify their vision. eking out a living fishing for shrimp and selling them for bait. but base all their actions on that knowledge. Holding counsel with themselves. The physicality stabilizes the dream images. One senses that Bess must have wanted to reach out and touch the memory of what he witnessed. The 100 or more paintings he produced during this time constitute his . would hear me among the angels' hierarchies? and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart: I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence. For it was during this time that Bess was introduced to Havelock Ellis' pioneering study. Visionaries not only discover the correspondences between the rhythms of the mortal body and those of the universe. a Dutch village guarded by a lion and a tiger. they are linked chronologically to the Abstract Expressionists. Alfred Jensen. In college he studied architecture in order to satisfy his father's wishes. makes them palpable. The Psychology of Sex. Whether the vision is derived from extensive research into arcane branches of knowledge. Forrest Bess. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror. Out of these dream-inspired drawings came the paintings. they searched for and found resonant symbols-ones embodying the particularities of their revelation. and Myron Stout. while revealing universal currents. what separates them from their generation and. Forrest Bess (1911-77) believed he was "a conduit through which this thing.1 Rainer Maria Rilke from "The First Elegy" It is unfortunate the term "visionary" has been invoked so often.

By the late 1930's he was deeply involved in studying Goethe's color theory. or colors from the prism. Two years later he travelled to Munich to study with Hans Hofmann. Bess' androgyny pulled him inward-he had to find the "other" buried in himself. Each is floating inside a golden halo. one must realize that Jensen saw no difference between fact and theory. depicts three figures. They are visitations: in some way they must have been as mysterious and eery to Bess. . as they are to us. Like Bess' other paintings. A major breakthrough occurred unexpectedly in 1957. The breadth of learning they embody isboth vast and idiosyncratic. Its solipsism cannot be made to yield. Some of the symbols and images echo ones found in pre-rational cultures. in turn. He was born in Guatemala. Numerous creation myths focus on the idea of light coming out of the darkness. The colors correspond to Bess' memory rather than to ones we would ordinarily find in nature. In fact. intermittently. arid landscape. in order to put together her vast art collection. Like Goethe. images. it is Bess' complete lack of self-consciousness that ultimately convinces us.sento pursue his own course of study. Starting in 1944. the systems Jensen used in his paintings are indications of the way we have broken infinity down into manageable units. he used a prism to investigate the properties of light. The Saints. Alfred Jensen's (1903-81) was an intricate mosaic colored by extensive travel. In 1934 Jensen established permanent residence in America. The following year Jensen broke with Hofmann and moved to Paris. for example. with some no bigger than a sheet of typing paper. and then. When Bess reenacts his dream images. when he started using the diagrams as preliminary drawings for his paintings. all systems are interrelated. Upon graduation in 1917. The sky is white and solid. which. the Book of Tao. At the same time. Jensen's paintings are complex diagrams. He never sets up one as more important than another. From 1929 to 1951 he was the companion to Saidie Adler May. meanwhile. His colors are divided into two groups. The sun sets in order to rise. Whether it is the Mayan Calendar. he does so with the blunt force of a boxer's fist. day and night. reveals the colors emanating from light. This notion of light and dark. Jensen's ideas about art simmered over a long period of time. In order to grasp their symbolic structure. he believed color was evidence of a mystical presence. the void. which was given to the Baltimore Museum of Art after her death in 1951.life's work. In the early 1930's he became familiar with the work and writing of Auguste Herbin: Herbin's interest in Goethe's investigations of color inspired Jen. Bess' dreams parallel the visions the ancient prophets had while alone in the desert. The Saints resists interpretation. Noon is yellow. floats above the landscape. this led to a final breakdown. as a sailor until 1926. sunset is red. the paintings are neither charming nor humorous. he uses arrows and positive and negative signs to connect electricity and mathematics to this phenomenon. Jensen connects the orbit of the earth around the sun to the sequence of colors in the spectrum. while the equally solid blackish landscape erupts into a jagged column. They travelled widely. Despite their scale. For Jensen. The prism. Both our origin and our destination are clearly on Jensen's mind. while others seem to have no counterparts. Shortly after May's death he settled in New York. Eventually. His paintings depict highly charged abstract symbols and images above an empty. Jensen thought of white and black as the parents of all color.he worked first as a cabin boy. and spent his early childhood with an uncle in Denmark after his mother died. all of them lead us back to infinity. The images in his strongest paintings never tell us more than they know. In contrast to Bess' outwardly simple rather sedentary life. The encyclopedic complexity of the paintings is difficult to unravel for this very reason. is the basis of all mythical thinking. he began making diagrams based on his reading and studies. unmixed colors taken from the spectrum: and there is black and white. Neither kind is cloaked in self-consciousness. Perpetual Color Motion. In West Sun. symbols.~ . In 1924 he received a scholarship to study art at the San DieqoFine Arts School. our original source. and colors are all interconnected: everything is of equal value. The numbers. both in Europe and America. Consequently. There are the pure. Following Goethe's lead. They are modest in size. a wealthy art collector and former student of Hofmann.

stubbornly beyond our grasp. It is why a decade doesn't seem too long to Myron Stout. Their regal starkness parallels our experience of a full moon on a clear. Massachusetts. they turn inward and enter the emptiness that grows and grows. it is why their art does not console us. Stout does not depict a shape. proved to be the decisive factor. What we sense is time's indifference. at best. they were the first to depict an oval shape locked within a solid ground. As a child. Stout's paintings are offshoots of that tradition. he elicits one. it cannot be consoled. Forrest Bess. he received an M. Titles such as Tereisias. and checkerboard patterns made up of two or three colors. Texas in 1908. He did not begin working in an abstract mode until after he was discharged from the army at the end of World War II. Although Stout considered these paintings unsuccessful. is matched only by his monkish patience. The process is long: and it is not uncommon for him to take ten years to finish a painting or graphite drawing. In turn. However. and Demeter allude to the sources. his aching need to discover the resonant visual metaphor. Two years later Stout returned to both Classical literature and rounded abstract shapes. Assertion and restraint negotiate a taut balance. rather than explain the image. p. they neither look for distractions nor try to fill the void they feel within themselves. Columbia. which are so evident in his approach. 151. He also moved to Provincetown." he painted two large black and white paintings. introduction by Robert Haas. It is a desire for completion. In college he studied ancient history and Greek literature. In 1937. New York. Instead. while keeping us at bay." They could name their desire. In Stout's work time stands still long enough for us to gaze at the remote past that exists within us.A. are transmitted to the work. Vintage Books. Alfred Jensen. To contemplate their art is to be asked to look inward. Stout's obsessive desire. the stars' icy passion. The work exerts a magnetic pull on us. to gaze at the void within ourselves. . multi-colored geometric abstractions. At this time Stout was primarily a landscapist. Ultimately. According to the Greeks. like the moon. In 1952 Stout reread Aeschylus for the first time since college. Stout's subsequent. but they could not own it. What each names then is their desire. "The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. It is why Alfred Jensen spent years studying Goethe. a "conduit. The paintings and drawings are at once barren and fullaustere and sensuous. Within a short period of time Stout's concern with the rounded edge became an almost overwhelming passion. why Forrest Bess felt he was. which resemble tilled fields or woven blankets. and seriously considered becoming a historian. Unlike most of us. In an attempt to express what he saw as the "tragic poignance. It embodies solitude. astronomy was a "Royal Science." edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell. These paradoxes. A brief period of study with Hans Hofmann both in New York and Provincetown. he studied classical piano. where he has lived by himself ever since. subtle adjustments and discovery are entwined. Precise.Myron Stout was born in Denton. in art from Teacher's College. Although the eyeless face with an open mouth in Tereisias III confirms all we know about the blind prophet." The contemplation of the heavenly bodies was the noblest endeavor. the drawing remains. John Yau 1. Delphi. 1984. at the end of his senior year he discovered painting and changed his plans. and Myron Stout embrace their spiritual loneliness. always modest sized paintings can be divided into two groups. starless night. the overwhelming longing that is indifferent to ordinary life.

UNTITLED. UNTITLED. 6/1x 8114" .3. NO. 39. FORREST BESS. 9W' x 103/4" 4. 1950. 1949. FORREST BESS. 16. NO.

NO. FORREST BESS..18. THE SAINTS. 6"x 10" . 5. FORREST BESS. 1952.. 7Y2"x 10W' 6. 1950.

HEAVEN. UNTITLED. ALFRED JENSEN. 1.18" x 13" I if' .7"x 14" 9. 1961.7. CA 1955. HEAVEN AND EARTH.42" x 50" 8. 1960. ALFRED JENSEN. ALFRED JENSEN.

1962. WEST SUN. PERPETUAL COLOR MOTION. 50/1x 46/1 . ALFRED JENSEN.10.

1959-80. 25Y'e/l x 20/1 .. 11. MYRON STOUT.J . UNTITLED.

MYRON STOUT.12. 25" x 19" . UNTITLED. 1955-68.

Bess abandoned expressionist canvases in Van Gogh's style and painted from his hypnagogic imagery . A tree emerges from the ground ("Untitled. At first Bess didn't know what his images meant. How can an abstract painting. Christianity was such a system for Giotto and Caravaggio. Each of these artists then developed theories based on his vision. have meaning for the painter or a viewer?' To answer that question I thought it would be useful to examine the work of the three artists in this show. These artists have been considered outsiders and eccentrics because of their insistence on an idiosyncratic content that has specific meaning. but the creation of a pseudo-hermaphrodite. No. but the paint was leading me away from the objects I was painting. the paint strokes. system that could incorporate their personal visionary experiences. Stout after rereading Greek dramas and myths painted two unexpected images to which he returned several years later when he began the 14 canvases that were to be his life's work. however. 1951 and "The Saints". 1960). but basically had to build their own private systems. I tried painting these emerging forms and movements. . some very good late paintings. broken off from representing the world. No. but was a necessary occurence for the making of each painting. How did the theories affect the images? I suspect that as the paintings became more about known symbols they were less compelling as paintings. but it's there. wanted to take on a life of their own. That apodictic moment compelled them to act. I . They seemed meaningless.Jensen realized that his diagrams of Goethe's color theory were more his true painting than the expressionist canvases he had been making. but just painted what he saw on the insides of his eyelids. We need at least a summary chronological survey> Beginning in the late 1950's Bess became more and more obsessed with a theory which he felt was revealed to him by the images in his paintings." Bess claimed he often didn't know what the images meant. He recognized in his images alchemical symbols referred to by Jung. I remember when I was there. It's as if the artist caught a glimpse of something and then with each successive painting saw a little more. One feels lost. The forms. Bess' hypnagogic hallucinations followed the same morphology as do dreams. It may be hard to verbalize. One feels from each of their works a specific content. when I couldn't paint in the sun. 1950) or roadway ("Untitled". There are. entering a world one knows nothing about. He believed that the remnant in the male urethra of the female sex organ was the Vas Hermetica of the alchemists and advocated an operation creating a hypospadias to gain access to the organ.6". he formed theories. Is this the mechanism of meaning in this case or is there some alternate explanation? From painting to painting in Bess' work the forms mutate and transform as do dream images. 1950 and" Untitled."I KNEW IT TO BE SO!" Often I see art students reach an uncomfortable place in their development as painters. Bess believed the goal of alchemy was not the creation of gold from a base metal. developing in time. I was painting the landscape near Oljato on the Navajo Reservation. To speak of insight or revelation in this way could be misleading because the illumination didn't occur just once. Bess. During the heat of the day. 33". Bess called this operation the re-creation of Adam and he believed the operation would end all hostility and lead to immortality. 1950) and changes into a chalice ("Untitled". Their vision gave them assurance. In other times there might have been a shared. Can art that means something to the rest of us come about in this way? Can images which only had unconscious or preconscious meanings to Bess have meaning to us? Bess believed in Jung's theory of the collective unconscious. public. Jensen and Stout did incorporate some aspects of science and psychology. 1950). It's an unnerving. What is this content? How does the viewer understand it? An insight or revelation was the turning point in the development of each artist. frustrating experience. More of his paintings need to be found. Every painting was a failure. Then. There is a bug image which he called the gene of creation and insanity which seems the root image of a number of paintings ("Untitled".

I knew it to be so!" Jensen exalts in the confirmation of an aspect of his and Goethe's color theories from Gagarin's observations of the earth from space. No. Other signs like the triangles. waves and trees. a circular space with directional environments pictorially determined . their praying hands each pointing towards the Cardinal directions . These are not just decorative paintings despite their beautiful color. We know such symbols have communicatable meanings without having to resort to a notion of the collective unconscious. and his operation give Bess a set of signs for his sexual experiences and related emotional states. architectural.. They are however adequate vehicles to convey his emotion ("Untitled. What we get from his paintings is Bess' feeling toward the signs. his work would be best served by a study center where artists. though mad. squares and circles which he used as symbols for cutting and stretching do not have specific traditional meaning and one can't tell What they refer to by their appearance. the colors Gagarin saw may have other causes. Preoccupied with my early encounter with the mystery of death my painterly efforts have centered around a square.. The dream symbols can be explained just as well as coming from experience or cultural influences. then numerical. Goethe treated color as an experimental event. symbols which can emerge from our unconscious or preconscious? I feel that this is a dangerous way to think. Where he places them. calendric.. One of the most exciting things about Jensen's work is its connection to science. 13". how they are painted. By virtue of this his theories could expand and become comprehensive. Most artists base their system on drawn forms and then create their color subjectively. Are there universal. "Eternity". In fact. In his loneliness and isolation Bess wanted to believe that his signs were self evident and despaired when they weren't understood. We now have many psychological tools to use in understanding such symbols. and scholars could go to reconstruct the meanings of the paintings. the plastic force of the colors. Bess believed the female orgasm and sexual experience to be different than the male's and wanted to experience them not vicariously but directly. Jensen used Goethe's theories but took them further.think the source of this delusional theory was a desire to understand female sexuality (despite his difficulties relating to women sexually). My mother had died. For Goethe color is a subjective event which occurs in the mind. Goethe's color theory came from seeing the colors created by looking through a prism at a contrasting black and white edge. and on a sunny afternoon I stood before the orange colored oblong box ornamented with its kneeling silver angels. Jensen's system is more conceptual and at first seems more objective than those of the other artists. . Onto his color sequences he layered systems based on magnetism and electricity. Of all the artist's I know. His painting reflects the mind and delves into it's nature. is transparent in the paintings and through them we can see the emotions at the root of the theories. Gagarin. Endocrinology. Jensen's mature work began with his use of Goethe's color theories to structure his paintings. innate. Thus the system. scientists. Jensen is unusual in that he makes color the base of his system. Jung warned Bess against taking his theories too literally. He even made a glossary of signs. 1967). Without Jensen to explain them to us we must try to reconstruct from his notes and the paintings the specific meanings of each work. and genetic systems. the effective belief system of our society. and "Color's Direction" are direct translations into painting of the color sequences one sees looking at black and white edges through a prism. There are many themes and subjects in his work that would reward thorough study. In his triumphant declaration after Gagarin's flight. It really isn't. bear their traditional meanings. But I feel Jung's way of thinking can easily lead to such literal thinking. Newton had treated color as objective optics.liS The energy in Jensen's paintings comes from roots just as personal and deep as do Bess'. the anatomy of the sexual organs. "Bravo. "It all began when as a seven year old boy I faced death's tragic implications. Some of these signs like the moon and stones. He used them to explore how the mind is constructed.' It's the audacity of Jensen's connection that astounds us.

Perhaps that's why there's also the theme of cycles or changing time: Jensen's later calendric paintings. More than the others he insists on insight occuring during the process of every painting. In Stout's paintings this distortion is used for an effect opposite of evolution's purpose. ca. When we divide. the central black form. He doesn't create color at that point as Jensen does. but instead a strange. This seems natural given the nature of their systems and assumptions all of us share. His flickering edge fuses the background and the form together by creating forms that alternate between being positive and negative shapes. and erroneous way for us to think. ca. Our brain. 11A". which at first seems to be background. People used to look to visionaries to discover the future. How can a reference to maleness and femaleness come about from these perceptual experiences? We recognize spatial events while viewing his paintings that refer us to deeply felt sexual and other experiences which we all have in common. 1964-71. 1964 and "Moon Lady". In "Untitled. but to take them too specifically detracts from one's experience of the work. but many systems outside of painting are also based on dualities. Yet their private symbologies have meanings for us. 1958 and "Variations in Time". arbitrary symbols. Stout's paintings are based on the edge between black and white as are Jensen's. suddenly becomes a positive form between the two white vertical shapes. These paintings are mirrors reflecting the mental world. The dualities of their systems led all three of these artists to study the male/female duality. One reason painting was such a good explicator of the Christian narrative was the shared interest in dualities. Are the dualities caused by properties of the painting medium? Black and white. the inside edge of the central white form seems mysteriously lighter in value. His reticence and modesty keep his work open and fluid for himself and for viewers. The specificity reduces meanings and removes some of a viewer's emotional connections. because of its evolutionary programming. even modeled. Bess. the world is made up of gradual. This helps us to visually separate an object from its surrounding background. Or in "Untitled. acts as an image enhancing device. He works on the painting or drawing until he understands its emotional source. I wonder what a system would be like with more intermediate and transitional stages. harmful. Can a painting still be meaningful if you give up the necessity of representation? Can one give meaning to a painting using one's own invented. automatically increasing the contrast at value differentiated edges. As well as to show that their systems are really about unity. gradations and shifts. Possibly. modulation. suddenly isn't solid. The visions of the Biblical prophets had meaning to others because they were a part of a larger common system. almost imperceptible. I'm amazed at the extent to which each of these artists base their system on dualities. but is the opening of a cave. That is why they are so compelling. sensitive. but is also dangerous. This is a disruptive. Bess uses a mixture of traditional symbols and his own partially decipherable. and Stout's paintinqs are religious in feeling because they deal with sexual struggle or its resolution in androgyny. including sexual. Are the dualities a reflection of the nature of the world? No. personal symbols? These artists show three possible ways. Jensen. This perceptual alternation of forms from positive to negative and back again connects Stout's forms to male/female imagery and themes. complimentary colors. for example. Perhaps the androgynous themes are a way to overcome this. 1958/59-80". 1955-68". Our brains process our perceptions with a system of dualities and we force the world into that pattern. We now know enough about the psychology of dream states that when we have . and Stout's drawings such as "Untitled". The egg form in "Untitled. Male and female are placed next to two lists of opposed attributes. Are the dualities a reflection of the structure of our mind? I think so. These artists aren't in that position. How can this be? Through their systems these artists remind us of our common humanity. The covert theme of many paintings from the Renaissance and the Baroque is the power struggle between the sexes. giving the egg form a flickering 3-dimensionality. His mythical references are helpful. we simplify. 1958/59-80".Stout is the least theoretical of these three painters. Bess' works such as "No. 1967. straight and curved lines.

but reflect the structures of our minds. Avon Books. A student needn't become an abstract painter at this point. 77-79. pp. October-November. 65-67. Sigmund. With our intuitions and Jensen's explanations we can interpret his paintings. Stout's paintings work from perception alone to reach meaning. pp. Paul. Freud. David Reed 1. For Jensen truth was many-sided and we may not find in each work all the sides he intended. 2. Davies. Superspaceand the Quantum Universe. Bern. ." translated and edited by James Strachey. but we can find much of the intended meaning. 3.enough information about his work we can make an appropriate interpretation of meaning. He or she simply sees that the plastic forces in painting are more important than representation. 1963. 4. The symbols we interpret onto his paintings come from our common experiences. Letter from Jensen to Kornfeld in catalogue "Ausstellung Von Olbildern. Jensen's symbols are not traditional. I'm trying to locate and catalogue all paintings by Bess. a Portrait of Nature in Rebel/fon-. Space. "Other Worlds." Simon and Schuster. Please contact me at the New York Studio School if you know of work. 5. "The Interpretation of Dreams." Kornfeld und Klipstein.

"This belief in the revelatory power of painting is characteristic of American art. the eternal youth of fable and myth. In the case of Bess. He believed that through these unconscious dream symbols the viewer would experience an androgynous union. the transformation of dream and paint into vital images acting as conduits parallel the alchemists' quest. risking the often cited criticism of his work as esoteric. Jensen somehow managed fn his paintings to wed his overriding interest in arcane systems of knowledge with the resultant profound revelations. "His [Jensen's] paintings are a sustained dialogue between a sensuous."2 Theodore F. One can thus understand Bess' emulation of the tradition of the alchemist with its joint quest of physical and spiritual union through complex theoretical exercises performed with the sanctity of religious rite. synthesis and observation has always been my method of workinq. deeply poetic use of pictorial elements. Forrest Bess. Jensen seems to proudly display them. Mark Rothko explained the relationship thus. Bess also saw a common link in the preoccupation with 'the work' as a preparation of the elixir of longevity."3 Kathy Halbreich The sub-title for this exhibition. is an attempt at exploring these antithetical notions which coexist.'" Like Bess with his exhaustive medical studies of suburethral incisions and Jungian psychology. the workings and observations of the prism and the writings of Leonardo. Perhaps in the end through your fidelity to the vision. and investigations into non-aesthetic systems of knowledge upon which the sensuous elements are based . Jr. will even enter the vision."l Meyer Schapiro "The American painter necessarily works with an eye to our need for both specificity and idealization .THEORY AND THE VISIONARY "I think you are right not to try to put your answers into your work. the answers that you gradually discover will become a real part of the vision." Bess himself was concerned with the unelaborated recording of his own dream images. obscure and undecipherable. Bess likened his paintings and their desired effect on artist and viewer to that of the medieval alchemist and his transmutation of base metals into gold. perhaps best expresses the need for theory to balance the excesses of the visionary. although without your proposing to do SO. "Van Gogh's symbols restimulated him until tremendous forces of unconscious flooded in and swept him away. "ideas and plans that existed in the mind at the start were simply the doorway through which one left the world in which they occur. but to meditate your own work for answers. . Whereas Bess sufficiently and Stout achingly disguise their theoretical underpinnings."6 "Research. Stebbins. Theory and The Visionary. expressive." In the work of these three artists this relationship is more complex. in a letter to Meyer Schapiro on Van Gogh. Alfred Jensen and Myron Stout. Jensen and his work were propelled in the mid 1950's by studies of Goethe's color theories. are crucial to the work of Forrest Bess. If he had intergrated the symbol through intellect he could have come to an accord with the unconscious. It is precisely this aspect of Jensen's work that is its great source of strength and directness.

New York. Alfred Jensen. No.1. Letter of Bess quoting letter from Meyer Schapiro to Forrest Bess. Museum of Fine Arts. Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Marcia Tucker. placing him in the tradition of Cezanne. 1954.This relationship of theory and the visionary is less easily defineable in the work of Myron Stout. concave and convex. Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Stout's concern is revelation through acute perceptual awareness. 2. Affinities: Bill Jensen. New York. singularity to universal meaning. Committee on the Visual Arts. Buffalo and The New Museum. the black and the white.I. The Lane Collection. Kathy Halbreich. October 29. 4. 1978. 1978. . Through the dualities and contradictions in Stout's work: the light and the dark. Boston. 7. Myron Stout. Sanford Schwartz calls Stout a "visual sage". M. 5. Theodore E. 3. Brice Marden and Terry Winters. Alfred Jensen: Paintings and Diagrams From the Years 1957-1977. Possibilities. 1983. 1951. 6. Letter from Forrest Bess to Meyer Schapiro. Stebbins. concrete and symbolic. Alfred Jensen: Paintings and Diagrams From the Years 1957-1977. Winter. Buffalo and The New Museum. Cambridge. T.. profundity leads to revelation. Lawrence Luhring 1. Jt. male and female. as in Greek myth. 1947-48. Mark Rothko. 1983.

It is from this context that the American abstract symbolist painters emerged. and Symbolist Painting.While Forrest Bess. in part. as a kind of imagery based on an experience in which an image. that we find the primary historical foundation for the visionary imagery of Bess. concerned with establishing a theoretical matrix for their art as a means of helping to explain the artistic motivation behind their painting. Jensen and Stout. An inherent aspect of such images is their fundamental connection. it is in the early work of these artists that we first encounter. visionary imagery has its roots deep in the romantic movement. Visionary imagery may be defined. Thomas Hudspeth Muhlenberg College 1. 1979). As Charles Eldridge has pointed out in his book American Imagination and Symbolist Painting. at least for the artist. The interrelation between an ideal vision substantiated by pragmatic theory. Through them the artist is provided a key to the understanding of the divine order of the universe. This approach to painting allowed for the development of highly individualized techniques of painting and in turn. By placing emphasis on the internal. Jensen and Stout. anti-illusionistic evocation of image and meaning (the abstract symbolists) drew upon the significant heritage of late nineteenth century Symbolism to achieve (their) decidedly twentieth century abstraction. addressing equally utopian idealism and the transcendental nature of man. within American art. "forms without concrete reference. artists such as Albert Pinkham Ryder and Ralph Blakelock shifted the focus of painting in America from an empirical realism to a conceptual. each helping to ratify and clarify the other. In turn. and its development and evolution within the context of twentieth century American art. Charles. . Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley. The art of William Blake immediately comes to mind. Each shares a mutual interest in a kind of imagery we may call visionary.and sense or meaning without objects . (New York: Grey Art Gallery."1 These early twentieth century abstract painters provide the most immediate historical and artistic precedent for the paintings of Bess. artists such as Georgia 0' Keefe. or series of images. Both Symbolist artists as well as writers reacted against what they believed to be the crass materialism of contemporary culture and society. they are linked together as artists through a common bond. Alfred Jensen and Myron Stout developed pictorial vocabularies distinct and independent from one another. p. were and. operate in tandem. By making the Mallarmean break-through to non-mimetic. allows the artist to achieve a meaningful interaction between subjective and objective knowledge.. Vision and theory for Bess. subjective world rather than on the external. This dialogue between vision and theory may be viewed as a modernist reinterpretation of the nineteenth century preoccupation with the ideal and the real. iconography. appears vividly or credibly to the mind. although not actually present in reality. it is in the late nineteenth century Symbolist movement. However. American Imagination New York University.. individualized personal statement. Eldridge. in a mutually supportive manner. Bess. The "means" of the craft of painting never superceded the issue of visionary content and symbolic meaning for these three artists. Historically. objective one. in the case of Stout.. with a highly subjective. Jensen and Stout. for the ultimate disolution of the realistically depicted object. 117. to some kind of divine or spiritual revelation. Jensen and Stout. are. While this interest in visionary content serves as an aesthetic foundation for their painting. all are essentially abstract painters whose work was and is somewhat independent from the mainstream of European modernism.

Bess. 117.. are. in the case of Stout. to some kind of divine or spiritual revelation. In turn. with a highly subjective. addressing equally utopian idealism and the transcendental nature of man. The interrelation between an ideal vision substantiated by pragmatic theory. While this interest in visionary content serves as an aesthetic foundation for their painting. within American art. although not actually present in reality. Thomas Hudspeth Muhlenberg College 1. Alfred Jensen and Myron Stout developed pictorial vocabularies distinct and independent from one another. all are essentially abstract painters whose work was and is somewhat independent from the mainstream of European modernism. each helping to ratify and clarify the other. Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley. and its development and evolution within the context of twentieth century American art. This dialogue between vision and theory may be viewed as a modernist reinterpretation of the nineteenth century preoccupation with the ideal and the real. allows the artist to achieve a meaningful interaction between subjective and objective knowledge. were and. American Imagination New York University. at least for the artist. it is in the late nineteenth century Symbolist movement. Vision and theory for Bess. individualized personal statement. Jensen and Stout. The "means" of the craft of painting never superceded the issue of visionary content and symbolic meaning for these three artists. 20 . Historically. or series of images. objective one.However. that we find the primary historical foundation for the visionary imagery of Bess. and Symbolist Painting. as a kind of imagery based on an experience in which an image.While Forrest Bess. iconography..':' These early twentieth century abstract painters provide the most immediate historical and artistic precedent for the paintings of Bess.. visionary imagery has its roots deep in the romantic movement. concerned with establishing a theoretical matrix for their art as a means of helping to explain the artistic motivation behind their painting. artists such as Albert Pinkham Ryder and Ralph Blakelock shifted the focus of painting in America from an empirical realism to a conceptual. it is in the early work of these artists that we first encounter. Jensen and Stout. "forms without concrete reference. appears vividly or credibly to the mind. Both Symbolist artists as well as writers reacted against what they believed to be the crass materialism of contemporary culture and society. Jensen and Stout.. By making the Mallarmean break-through to non-mimetic. for the ultimate disolution of the realistically depicted object. Jensen and Stout. The art of William Blake immediately comes to mind . 1979). anti-illusionistic evocation of image and meaning (the abstract symbolists) drew upon the significant heritage of late nineteenth century Symbolism to achieve (their) decidedly twentieth century abstraction. Charles. artists such as Georgia O'Keefe. An inherent aspect of such images is their fundamental connection. and sense or meaning without objects . in part. in a mutually supportive manner. It is from this context that the American abstract symbolist painters emerged. p. Each shares a mutual interest in a kind of imagery we may call visionary. This approach to painting allowed for the development of highly individualized techniques of painting and in turn. operate in tandem. (New York: Grey Art Gallery. Eldridge. subjective world rather than on the external. they are linked together as artists through a common bond. Visionary imagery may be defined. Through them the artist is provided a key to the understanding of the divine order of the universe. As Charles Eldridge has pointed out in his book American Imagination and Symbolist Painting. By placing emphasis on the internal.

TEREISIAS 111. LTD. 1963. COLLECTION OF ROSALIE' BERKOWITZ. 39. COLLECTION OF ROSALIE BERKOWITZ. 6" x 10". 11 MYRON STOUT 1. COLLECTION OF JEANETTE BONNIER. 1960. PRIVATE COLLECTION. WILLIAM ARTHUR THOMPSON. UNTITLED. 4112" X 7112". 1955. 25" X 19". 12.OILONCANVAS 5D"x46" COLLECTION OF EDWARD R. 1947. UNTITLED. UNTITLED. 1966. AARON H. COLLECTION OF ROY R. OIL ON CANVAS. 1962. COLLECTION OF CEliA ASCHER. COURTESY OF PACE GALLERY 6. 12/1x 14". /l ALFRED JENSEN 1 UNTITLED. OIL AND COLLAGE ON PAPER. 15.COLLECTION OF HENRY AND MARIA FEIWEL. COLLECTION OF MRS. OIL ON CANVAS. 3.1972. 12/1x 12/1. A FILM RINGED THE EARTH. OIL ON CANVAS. GRAPHITE ON PAPER. COLLECTION OF RICHARD BROWN BAKER. NO. OIL ON PAPER. OIL AND COLLAGE ON PAPER.1957.5. 4%/1 X 7". 1963. UNTITLED. THE SAINTS. DOWNE. *2. 11. OIL ON CANVAS. MAY 7. 14"x 16". OIL ON CANVAS. OIL. DOWNE. UNTITLED. NO. OIL AND STEEL . PERPETUAL COLOR MOTION. 1950. kNEW YORK STUDIO SCHOOL EXHIBITION ONLY *kMUHLENBERG COLLEGE EXHIBIT/ON ONLY . 9W' X 23". OCTOBER. NO. OIL ON CANVAS. 4. UNTITLED. OIL ON PAPER. 1955-68. UNTITLED. COLLECTION OF DR. 22" X 30". ON CANVAS. 4. 6. 12"x 18". 13. NO. 46" X 36". HEAVEN AND EARTH. UNTITLED. JR. DOWNE. NO. COURTESY OF JACK TILTON GALLERY. 5. OIL ON CANVAS. 1961. UNTITLED. OIL ON CANVAS.EXHIBITION CHECKLIST FORREST BESS 1. GRAPHITE ON PAPER. 17"x 14". 1950. 25Vs X 20". COLOR'S DIRECTION. 9"x 12". UNTITLED. 15. UNTITLED. OIL ON CANVAS. 33. COLLECTION OF EDWARD R. 3. 19"x 151/z". 1961. JR. OILON CANVAS 9"x 12". 1950. DOWNE. 22"x 30". COLLECTION OF ROSALIE BERKOWITZ. JR. 7112" X 10112". COLLECTION OF PARASOL ' PRESS. 2. NEUBERGER. GRAPHITE ON PAPER. OURTESY OF JACK TILTON C GALLERY. 10. ' **8. INK AND COLLAGE ON PAPER 22/1X 28 COURTESY OF PACE GALLERY. CA. 1958/59-80. RAIN OF COLOR #3. 1967. *8. COURTESY OF PACE GALLERY. 64" x 54". 1950. UNTITLED. 1959. JR. COLLECTION OF MARGARET LEWIS FURSE. ETERNITY. OIL ON WOOD. 1957. 1950. 16. OIL ON CANVAS. WEST SUN. COURTESY OF PACE GALLERY. 7. 10.1970. OIL ON CANVAS. COURTESY OF RICHARD BELLAMY. OIL ON CANVAS. UNTITLED. COLLECTION OF EDWARD R. CA. 7. UNTITLED. NO. COURTESY OF PACE GALLERY 9. GRAPHITE ON PAPER 53/8" X 4Vs". COLLECTION OF ROSALIE BERKOWITZ. 1955. OIL ON CANVAS MOUNTED ON WOOD. 18" X 13/1. *14. AND MRS. 1957. 10"x 14". 42" X 50". 6" X 5%". 1962. 6"x 8%". OIL ON CANVAS. 1949. COURTESY OF PACE GALLERY. 1952. 8" x 10". OIL ON CANVAS. PREMONITION (BLACK FORMS). HEAVEN. THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN. CA. 2. 9. 1950. 7" x 8/1. COLLECTION OF EDWARD R. 5. 1976. COLLECTION OF RICHARD BELLAMY. 4. 8" X 10W'. 18. 9W'x 10%". BROWN GRASS.COLLECTION OF EDITH GOULD. 1952-53. ESMAN. UNTITLED. OIL AND COLLAGE ON PAPER. PRIVATE COLLECTION. 3.13. 1966-79. COURTESY OF JACK TILTON GALLERY 6. CA. OIL ON CANVAS. OILON CANVAS. GALLERY. BEFORE MAN. *5.

1958/59-80 BRUCE McCANDLESS D. 16 THE SAINTS UNTITLED. JAMES DEE STEVEN SLOMAN NASA . NO. JAMES DEE D. PERPETUAL COLOR MOTION CREDITS D. JAMES DEE D.PHOTOGRAPHY FORREST BESS UNTITLED. DETAIL UNTITLED. CA. 1961 WEST SUN. JAMES DEE ELLEN PAGE WILSON D. JAMES DEE D.1955-68 UNTITLED. JAMES DEE BILL JACOBSON BILL JACOBSON D. NO. NO. 18 ALFRED JENSEN HEAVEN HEAVEN AND EARTH A FILM RINGED THE EARTH A FILM RINGED THE EARTH. JAMES DEE ELLEN PAGE WILSON MYRON STOUT UNTITLED. 39 UNTITLED.

THE FIRST SOLO VOYAGE BY UNTETHERED ASTRONAUT . BRUCE McCANDLESS.13.

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