Tomma Abts: NEW MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART

By Scrimgeour, Alexander | Artforum International, September 2008 | Go to article overview

Tomma Abts: NEW MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART


Scrimgeour, Alexander, Artforum International


If the compact, boxlike galleries of the new New Museum did no favors for the raggedy lo-fi sculptures in "Unmonumental," the museum's inaugural show, the ensuing exhibition--German painter Tomma Abt's first solo outing in the United States--made clear the potential of the building's small spaces. Hung low, the fourteen paintings on view worked with the architecture to draw the viewer into an emotional and intellectual engagement with a complex and enveloping space. For those who have previously seen Abts's works only in reproduction, where they appear rather flat, encountering them in person makes for a revelation, as each composition pulls you into a three-dimensional, almost holographic environment that tends to produce full-throttle kinetic effects yet is held in check by the surface of the paint and--not least--the edges of the canvas itself.

Each of the paintings measures eighteen and seven-eighths by fifteen inches, dimensions the artist "settled into" almost a decade ago, according to the exhibition leaflet, and in which she has since made all her work. If the consistent sizing facilitates a kind of conversation among the works on view, the true significance of the size emerges as one stands in front of them: Not only are they portraitlike--as is also suggested by their titles having been taken from a dictionary of German first names--but even at the proximity necessary to engage with the details of the surface, one must perforce also attempt to take in each canvas as a whole.

This creates unexpected tensions: In Meko, 2006, for example, the eye is simultaneously drawn to and away from the origin of the rays in the top left corner, only to be caught up in tracing a jagged elliptical loop in the painting's center, which introduces distortion and feedback into geometric simplicity. The characteristic underpainting--the visible evidence of Abts's working process--further unsettles any simple interpretation, as lines extend the contours of the loop, quietly crisscrossing one another and cutting through the diagonal beams to create a new, complementary plane of ghost shapes and unexpected relationships. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Tomma Abts: NEW MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.