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Aquamarine, from the Alaskan Horizons Series

Documentation Signed
Origin United States
Period 1950-1979
Materials Oil on canvas
Dimensions
W. 57.5 in; H. 43.5 in;
W. 146.05 cm; H. 110.49 cm;
Condition Good.
Creation Date 1968
Description George Vranesh’s superb color abstractions embody the spirit of midcentury style. Vast landscapes, city streets, and domestic scenes illustrate his deep understanding of modernist compositional balance. Though he was born in 1926, Vranesh’s aesthetic affinities lie with an earlier generation of painters, that of Milton Avery, Stuart Davis, Ralston Crawford, and Will Barnet. In the mid-1950s he studied under Barnet at the Art Students League, honing the nuances of color harmonies that hover between abstraction and representation.

Vranesh found his most important technical revelations in Amédée Ozenfant’s Foundation of Modern Art and Hans Hofmann’s color theory. Ozenfant’s emphasis on rational ordering of objects provided a basis for arranging shapes. Hofmann believed that a modern artist must remain faithful to the flatness of the canvas. To suggest the illusion of space, depth and movement in a picture, artists should create contrasts of color, form and texture in a relationship he called the “push and pull” of colors and shapes. The visual structure of Vranesh’s work is defined by Hofmann’s color theory and the purist ideas of Ozenfant (and his collaborator, Le Corbusier). In his work, space is determined by color and color is asserted by an attention to clarity as defined by the clean-hard edges with no overlapping of forms or concealment through layering of paint.

The artist traveled to Alaska every summer from 1959 to 1965, and it was there that he created drawings and sketches that served as the subjects for his Alaskan Horizons series of paintings. These works abstracted the stunning Alaskan landscape into bold color forms in red, blue, white, and black – the colors of native Alaskan art. Many of the paintings in the Alaskan Horizon series were exhibited at the 10/4 Group, an artists’ cooperative gallery in New York City co-founded by Vranesh in the early 1960s. These large landscapes are considered to be some of his strongest work; he often reused existing motifs developed from Alaska in his later paintings. New York Times art critic and Vranesh collector, Hilton Kramer, observed that Vranesh’s spatial perspective, which tends to be aerial in character, was an important marker that defines the originality of his work. Kramer wrote: “It is a perspective from ‘above’ – not from the heavens, but as if from a ship’s deck or a bridge or other earthly heights.…”
Styles / Movements Color Field, Conceptualism, Minimalism
Incollect Reference Number 378012
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