"The circle and the square. Verticals, swoops, and folds. Flat planes and sensuous surfaces. Colors bright and vibrant. During the late 1950s and 60s, artists began to diverge from the painterly, gestural approaches of Abstract Expressionism in favor of what the American art critic Clement Greenberg in 1964 called “post-painterly abstraction.” Artists moved in a variety of directions, some in pursuit of paintings pure in color and open in composition while others toward structured, linear designs using familiar geometric shapes. Rejecting a loose application of paint, these artists stained their unprimed canvases or created flat planes of color devoid of any distinctive mark making.
Drawn primarily from SJMA’s permanent collection, Break + Bleed features both paintings and works on paper by historically significant artists who exemplify the spirit of post-painterly abstraction through an expansive range of styles including hard-edge abstraction, Color Field painting, Op art, Minimalism, and soft-edge abstraction. Artworks in this exhibition feature biomorphic and geometric shapes, angular and wavy lines, and lively planes of color. The work of Josef Albers—from his celebrated series devoted to the square, exploring the subjective experience of color—may be the most recognizable. For Karl Benjamin, interlocking and sometimes twisted shapes created energetic color associations and incongruous patterns. This exhibition also features contemporary artists like Linda Besemer, Patrick Wilson, and others who are pushing post-painterly abstraction into new territories.
Like the break of a line or page and the bleed of various elements beyond the edge or boundary of a certain area, the artworks in Break + Bleed oscillate between ideas of linearity and geometry and overlapping planes of color and form. The exhibition also features work by Joachim Bandau, Ilya Bolotowsky, Naomi Boretz, Guy John Cavalli, Mary Corse, Tony DeLap, Sam Francis, Stephen French, Sonia Gechtoff, Amy Kaufman, Patsy Krebs, Richard Lodwig, Helen Lundeberg, Brice Marden, John McLaughlin, John M. Miller, Winston Roeth, David Simpson, Frederick Spratt, Ted Stamm, Frank Stella, Amy Trachtenberg, Don Voisine, and Robert Yasuda. Also included are key loans by Nicole Phungrasamee Fein from the Bay Area and Los Angeles based–artist Eamon Ore-Giron, as well as a recently acquired multi-panel painting from 1975 by San Francisco–born artist Leo Valledor."