Primarily known as a pioneer of hard-edged abstraction, paper served as a convenient and versatile medium to facilitate Al Held’s (American, 1928–2005) creative process. This was where he explored new...
Primarily known as a pioneer of hard-edged abstraction, paper served as a convenient and versatile medium to facilitate Al Held’s (American, 1928–2005) creative process. This was where he explored new directions, elaborated forms and completed thoughts, experimenting with everything from newsprint to huge seamless rolls of photographic background paper. As he once said of his drawings: ‘They’re more playful, they have more speculations in them, but they are things in themselves.’
Works on paper were especially crucial in the 1960s. In the middle part of the decade, Held created an extraordinary series of paintings and works on paper that established powerful spatial tensions through the representation of specific shapes seemingly occupying separate realms. Because he was painting in high-key colours at the time, crayon served as the most immediate and effective medium when rendering on paper. In the same period Held also painted loosely gestural forms in India ink on sheets of paper laid out on the studio floor. These ‘warm-ups’, as he referred to them, became a distinct body of work that manifested his signature fusion of gesture and geometry. In them, each line is endowed with a concise calligraphy, while the imagery itself is related to the fragments of linguistic symbols that characterise his ‘Letter Paintings’.
Comparable works on paper by Al Held held in the following institutions:
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut