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On Edge(s)

In 2009 the Museum of Modern Art made a major announcement concerning its displays that was dutifully reported by the New York Times: the chief curator of painting and sculpture, Ann Temkin, had decided to remove the frames from the museum’s collection of Abstract Expressionist paintings, thus “freeing” the paintings from the “domestication” of the gallery space.

Edges/Limits. Edges/Tableau

Edges are limits. Limits are exposed through questioning. Uncovering and questioning limits in painting is a process that is akin to questioning the limits of the social, political, and personal—working painting at the margins or the center; top down or bottom up; visible or invisible; surface conditions and underneaths.

Painted Sides: Bringing Visual and Emotional Energies Together

The sides of the paintings are commonly seen as trivial and frivolous. Painting them could be considered unsophisticated; they simply are not an important part of the work. Sides are usually covered with a frame or left bare, with the remnants of the artist’s process still visible.

Painting without Edge

I write about the edge in my own painting as a way of situating myself in the world and figuring out how to receive it.

In Conversation

SQUEAK CARNWATH with Amanda Gluibizzi

Carnwath’s large-scale paintings feature her personal vocabulary of faces, vases, candlesticks, sinking ships, blocks of color, and constellations, while placing written messages squarely in front of her viewers. Notably, Carnwath also scrawls the titles of her paintings down the left and right edges of her canvases which she always displays unframed, something I wanted to learn more about.

Embarrassment of Edges

The first time I saw, in an art conservation studio, the unframed edges of a 16th-century portrait, it felt something like having accidentally seen undressed a distinguished, older man in my professional field. (It was, of course, an “old master” painting). I was embarrassed for both of us.

The frame that suffocates the image

On one of the prints he designed in support of the 1968 student protests in France, Asger Jorn scrawled: “break the frame that suffocates the image.”

Side Issues

With the notable exception of the brilliant Beverly Fishman, who encouraged us to question all forms of painting, my education didn’t really consider the sides of paintings. They were painted white—that ever-problematic stand-in for neutrality—or stained by action on the front, but more often simply ignored.

The Ec-centric Gaze

Early in 1969, in my first years in New York, I decided that I was going to leave the frontal surface of the painting blank, using only the sides of the stretchers to paint on. I was breaking away from what I felt painting had become by then: an altogether tired formalist marking of the frontal plane which no longer appeared to offer significant new options.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

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