Magazine article New Criterion

"Nell Blaine: The Abstract Work"

Magazine article New Criterion

"Nell Blaine: The Abstract Work"

Article excerpt

"Nell Blaine: The Abstract Work" at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York. January 27-March 10, 2001

Like Walker, the American artist Nell Blaine (1922-1996) was also concerned with the interplay of abstraction and representation, although she eschewed pure abstraction for most of her painting life, preferring instead landscape, still life, and portraiture --the work upon which her reputation rests. Encountering Blaine's abstractions from the Forties caused a jolt of delighted surprise. Completed before she turned thirty, Blaine's abstract phase began while she was studying with Hans Hoffman and continued through her inclusion in Peggy Guggenheim's important "The Women" show at Art of this Century (when Blaine was only twenty-one) and her first solo exhibition at the Jane Street Gallery, ending around the time the Jane Street Group dispersed at the end of the decade.

Despite her obvious indebtedness to Leger and Mondrian, Blaine's abstract work--hard-edged, favoring pure colors, black outlines, and biomorphic forms--shows both remarkable plastic ability and far more individuality than other followers of Mondrian. In 1946, Blaine wrote "of giving the effect of a decorative pattern even though my main effort has been to bring the picture to life with the most plastic and rhythmic means available. I enjoy hinting at repeats without making them." The evidence of her canvases proves the perfect accuracy of her statement. …

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