Suzanne P. Hudson

Suzanne Hudson is Associate Professor of Art History and Fine Art at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Robert Ryman: Used Paint (MIT Press) and Painting Now.

  • Agnes Martin

    Agnes Martin

    Night Sea

    Suzanne P. Hudson

    A close examination of Agnes Martin's grid painting in luminous blue and gold.

    Agnes Martin's Night Sea (1963) is a large canvas of hand-drawn rectangular grids painted in luminous blue and gold. In this illustrated study, Suzanne Hudson presents the painting as the work of an artist who was also a thinker, poet, and writer for whom self-presentation was a necessary part of making her works public. With Night Sea, Hudson argues, Martin (1912–2004) created a shimmering realization of control and loss that stands alone within her suite of classic grid paintings as an exemplary and exceptional achievement.

    Hudson offers a close examination of Night Sea and its position within Martin's long and prolific career, during which the artist destroyed many works as she sought forms of perfection within self-imposed restrictions of color and line. For Hudson, Night Sea stands as the last of Martin's process-based works before she turned from oil to acrylic and sought to express emotions of lightness and purity unburdened by evidence of human struggle.

    Drawing from a range of archival records, Hudson attempts to draw together the facts surrounding the work, which were at times obfuscated by the artist's desire for privacy. Critical responses of the time give a sense of the impact of the work and that which followed it. Texts by peers including Lenore Tawney, Donald Judd, and Lucy Lippard are presented alongside interviews with a number of Martin's friends and keepers of estates, such as the publisher Ronald Feldman and Kathleen Mangan of the Lenore Tawney archive, which holds correspondence between Martin and Tawney.

    • Paperback $19.95 £14.95
  • Robert Ryman

    Robert Ryman

    Used Paint

    Suzanne P. Hudson

    This first book-length study of Robert Ryman argues that his work is a continuous experiment in the possibilities of painting.

    In this first book-length study of Robert Ryman, Suzanne Hudson traces the artist's production from his first paintings in the early 1950s, many of which have never been exhibited or reproduced, to his recent gallery shows. Ryman's largely white-on-white paintings represent his careful working over of painting's conventions at their most radically reduced. Through close readings of the work, Hudson casts Ryman as a painter for whom painting was conducted as a continuous personal investigation. Ryman's method—an act of “learning by doing”—as well as his conception of painting as “used paint” sets him apart from second-generation abstract expressionists, minimalists, or conceptualists.

    Ryman (born in 1930) is a self-taught artist who began to paint in earnest while working as a guard at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the 1950s. Hudson argues that Ryman's approach to painting developed from quotidian contact with the story of modern painting as assembled by MoMA director and curator Alfred Barr and rendered widely accessible by director of the education department Victor D'Amico and colleagues. Ryman's introduction to artistic practice within the (white) walls of MoMA, Hudson contends, was shaped by an institutional ethos of experiential learning. (Others who worked at the MoMA during these years include Lucy Lippard, who married Ryman in 1961; Dan Flavin, another guard; and Sol LeWitt, a desk assistant.)

    Hudson's chapters—“Primer,” “Paint,” “Support,” “Edge,” and “Wall,” named after the most basic elements of the artist's work—eloquently explore Ryman's ongoing experiment in what makes a painting a painting. Ryman's work, she writes, tests the medium's material and conceptual possibilities. It signals neither the end of painting nor guarantees its continued longevity but keeps the prospect of painting an open question, answerable only through the production of new paintings.

    • Hardcover $44.95 £35.00

Contributor

  • Beauty

    Beauty

    Dave Beech

    Key texts on beauty and its revival in contemporary art.

    Beauty has emerged as one of the most hotly contested subjects in current discussions on art and culture. After more than half a century of suspicion and interrogation, beauty's resurgence in visual practice and discourse since the late 1980s has engaged some of the most influential artists and writers on art. From the avant-garde to the conceptual era, anti-aesthetic strategies have resisted beauty because of its perceived complicity with dominant systems and ideologies. Thus politicized and opened to critique, beauty, invoked in relation to contemporary art, no longer sustains a singular or universal meaning but is always contentious. Spanning a range of positions on beauty—both for and against—this anthology assembles the key texts on the controversy and situates the debate over the revival of beauty in the broader context of the history of ideas and artistic practice. Artists survyed include: Vito Acconci, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Gustave Courbet, Marcel Duchamp, Marlene Dumas, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, Gary Hume, Asger Jorn, Alex Katz, Willem de Kooning, Joseph Kosuth, Paul McCarthy, Édouard Manet, Robert Mapplethorpe, Agnes Martin, Robert Morris, Barnett Newman, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko, Robert Smithson, Nancy Spero, Frank Stella, Clyfford Still, Andy Warhol. Writers include: Theodor Adorno, Alexander Alberro, Rasheed Araeen, Art & Language, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, T. J. Clark, Mark Cousins, Arthur C. Danto, Jacques Derrida, Thierry de Duve, Fredric Jameson, Christoph Grunenberg, Dave Hickey, Suzanne Perling Hudson, Caroline A. Jones, John Roberts, Elaine Scarry, Wendy Steiner, Paul Wood.

    • Paperback $24.95 £16.95