Color Strokes (Paintbrushes), 1991; Accumulations of paint brushes and acrylic paint strokes in polyester, framed in black plexiglass with black plexiglass base; Incised with Arman signature and incised numbered 16/20 bottom right; Recorded in the Arman Studio Archives under number APA# 8400.91.084; Measurements: Sculpture 26 1/2 x 12 1/2 x 2 3/4", base 7 16 x 3/4".
New Realism was an art movement that started in France in 1960 with Pierre Restany writing it's original manifesto which proclaimed: "Nouveau Realisme -new ways of perceiving the real." This group of artists was interested in new ways in which to create art, and in the process subvert the status quo. The artist Arman was one of the original founding members and he was known for his "accumulations" and for his destruction/recomposition of ordinary objects. For what he called his "Coupes (cuts)" he featured objects with a strong "identity" such as musical instruments, with the violin being his most famous subject matter. These objects were then transformed by slicing, smashing, or burning them in order to further activate the form and therefore present them in an entirely new state.
The 1940's were dominated by the first American Art movement, abstract expressionism. The group of artists were divided into two camps, the abstractionists which preferred color and simple forms to carry the work; and the expressionists which were interested in the line created as the result of movement or gesture. The expressionist group were further divided into artists that preferred the Jackson Pollock way of working, with no brush (ie. brushstrokes) and simple expressionist movements; and the Willem de Kooning way of working, which was using bold brushstrokes that could be seen in the completed work. The entire movement was oppossed to the traditional European formal painting, where the goal was
not to have a single brushstroke seen. By the time the 1960's rolled around, the PoP Art movement was dominated by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein; both of whom preferered to not even use a brush, but rather the silkscreen in order to make sure that the completed works had a very mechanical and commercial feel. This way of making art assured that not only were brushstrokes not seen, the artwork itself suggested a totally commercial means of production.
Roy Lichtenstein produced paintings of large brushstrokes as subject matter and Andy Warhol went even further by making the subject matter of his paintings the actual supplies used to make art. Warhol's idea was a painting of the supplies used to make a painting, an open watercolor kit with brushes and the dried colored pigment discs. Arman would go even further with this sculpture. He has suspended paintbrushes and the brushstroke created by them, into a sculptural acrylic block.
This work "Color Strokes (Paintbrushes), 1991" is an iconic work by Arman. It features a series of thirteen black handled paint brushes loaded in green, black, yellow, red, or orange paint that have made a single brush stroke and then embedded into a block of polyester resin. The work is signed by Arman and numbered from the edition of only 20. The unique presentation, of a brushes and brushstrokes floating in space; allows the viewer to see the objects from multiple views.
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