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Esman, A.H. (1983). Understanding Form in Painting. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 10:111-112.

(1983). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 10:111-112

Understanding Form in Painting

Aaron H. Esman, M.D.


The paper 'A psychoanalytic approach to understanding form in abstract expressionist and minimalist painting' by Emilie S. Sobel Kutash (Vol. 9, Part II) is an interesting attempt to apply psychoanalytic principles to the exploration of what is, after all, the critical aspect of all artistic products. Unfortunately, the paper is so marred by errors of fact as to make its interpretations subject to serious question. The repeated misspelling of the names of such painters as Ad Reinhardt and Clyfford Still, along with that of the historian and critic Irving Sandler, leaves the reader in some doubt about the author's familiarity with the very school of artists she is discussing. She errs, too, in suggesting that such painters as Kenneth Noland and Frank Stella 'employ minimal principles' which include 'sparseness [and] few colours …' In fact, Noland has always been a 'color field' painter whose primary interest has been in the possibilities of color, while Stella, after his early monochromatic paintings has been noted for the richness of his pallette and his ceaseless exploration of the potentiality of color.


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