Left: “Why Artists Are Going Abstract: The Case of Stuart Davis”, by Winthrop Sargeant
Life Magazine, February 17, 1947, p. 78-83, © Life Magazine
Right: Loren Munk, The Roots of the New York School, 2010
Oil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches
December 11, 2010 – January 29, 2011
MINUS SPACE is pleased to announce the exhibition Becoming Modern in America. The twofold exhibition will feature more than 20 vintage issues of Life magazine spanning the years 1936-1972, as well as two recent paintings by Brooklyn, New York-based painter Loren Munk.
Life was purchased and redesigned as a weekly news publication by Henry Luce in 1936. It was the first photojournalism magazine published in the United States and its editors placed photographs on par with written text. For more than 30 years, Life was one of the most wide-reaching and influential popular media outlets in the US with its circulation reaching 8.5 million copies weekly by 1970.
Between 1936-1972, Life published more than 20 feature articles about the emergence of Modern Art in the US, including the development and public reception of geometric abstraction, Abstract Expressionism, and Minimalism. It is still debated today whether the magazine’s coverage of the visual arts during this time was a benefit or a detriment to the artist community in New York City.
Groundbreaking articles include its August 8, 1949 issue, in which Life published the controversially-titled article “Jackson Pollock: Is He the Greatest Living Painter in the United States?”. This was followed a year later on January 15, 1951 by Life’s second landmark article “The Metropolitan and Modern Art: Amid Brickbats and Bouquets the Museum Holds Its First US Painting Competition”, which featured the iconic photograph of The Irascibles by Nina Leen.
Life also profiled dozens of other artists in its pages during this period, including Piet Mondrian, George Braque, Stuart Davis, Jean Xceron, Clyfford Still, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, and Frank Stella, as well as the critics Clement Greenberg and Meyer Schapiro, among others. The magazine highlighted key moments in the development of Modern Art, such as the Carnegie International Exhibition in 1937, A.E. Gallatin’s Museum of Living Art in 1938, the Museum of Modern Art’s roundtable on Modern Art featuring 15 major art critics in 1958, The Downtown Gallery founded by Edith Halpert, and The Jewish Museum’s Primary Structures exhibition in 1967.
For the past decade, Loren Munk has created intricate, impastoed information paintings mapping the history of New York City’s artists, writers, venues, and movements. Becoming Modern in America will feature two recent paintings by the artist. The first painting, The Roots of the New York School, highlights the artists Hans Hofmann, Arshile Gorky, Stuart Davis, and John Graham, and diagrams the history, influences, and venues that led to the development of the New York School. Loren’s second painting, Critical America, similarly visualizes the field of art criticism as two primary streams of thought — formalistic and poetic -– and maps the influence of the key critics Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg.
Loren Munk (b. 1951, Salt Lake City, Utah) has exhibited his work in museums, galleries, and non-profit venues nationally and internationally for the past 30 years, including in New York, Germany, Switzerland, France, Poland, and Brazil. His work is included in countless public and private collections worldwide, such as the Museum of the City of New York, Metropolitan Transit Authority, Chase Manhattan Bank, Sony Music, Forbes Magazine (all NYC), Everson Museum (Syracuse, NY), and Hood Museum of Art (New Hampshire).
In addition to his artistic work, Loren has been a highly visible art critic for more than a dozen years. Working under the pseudonym James Kalm, a persona he created in the 1990s, he produces the weekly video blog The Kalm Report on YouTube, which he describes as a “blurring of criticism, historic documentation, journalism, and performance art”. He is also a regular contributor to The Brooklyn Rail, writing the column Brooklyn Dispatch.
* Europeans Sweep Carnegie Show, December 20, 1937, p. 24
MINUS SPACE’s programming is made possible by the generous support of The Golden Rule Foundation, as well as individual donors. We thank you!