Friday, June 9, 2017

BestSeatIBW2016- Morris Louis*

*This post was originally written as a Facebook post for Babywearing International of Cleveland for International Babywearing Week 2016. Some edits have been made for clarity.  

This wrap is appropriately called “Paint,” and features a rainbow of paint dripping from one rail (presumably the top) down to the other.  Natibaby, who wove this wrap, gives almost no description and only hints at the joy that the act of painting can bring.  No particular artist or inspiration is named, but I think it looks remarkably like Color Field Painting, particularly the work of Morris Louis, an American painter working in the mid-20th century.

Louis’s work forms a link between Abstract Expressionism, particularly action painting (think of those Jackson Pollock drip paintings, in which we as viewers can see how each layer of paint is applied to the canvas, and imagine the motions the artists made while doing so), and Minimalism, which would take hold in the 1960’s.  Louis’s painting, Where, from 1960 (at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 66.3112) reminds me of the stripes of dripping paint on the wrap, the fluid way in which the medium- the paint- takes center stage.  Much of Louis’s work atthis time features more deliberate and obvious dripping, but the organization here, the primacy of the bands of color, connects it to the woven wrap in design.

Louis’s technique, pouring thinned paint directly onto the canvas while the canvas is spread flat on the floor of his studio, is one he learned from Helen Frankenthaler, the painter who pioneered Color Field Painting.  Artists working in this style reject any emotional, religious, or personal meaning, instead celebrating color itself, allowing viewers to make up their own minds.  Natibaby, it seems, allows us to do the same, by celebrating the paint itself!