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Delight to the Eye

By Aaron LaFrenz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 9, 1999
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Jennifer Holmes
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Eminent Delights, at the University of Arizona Museum of Art through March 24, is a collection of original prints from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

To the untrained eye, the University of Arizona Museum of Art's current exhibition, Eminent Delights: Images of Time, Space and Matter has all the stereotypical characteristics of non-objective art. The collection of original prints and drawings from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s has plenty of colored blocks, squiggly lines, and clashing colors. Many works are titled, obscurely enough, "Untitled"- artists declaring their work has no meaning. Or alternately, artists making interesting attempts to philosophize about art, life and reality.

For example, ponder the meaning of the postscript to Shusaku Arakawa's "And/Or In Profile:" "A position of believing in what is perceived/A position of believing out from what is perceived."

The apprehension most audiences have toward non-objective art is that it forces you to think. You cannot just stand back and passively admire an artist's photo-realistic rendering of a man or a woman in portrait, a serene landscape, or a detailed still life.

Where It's At

Eminent Delights, a traveling exhibition from the UAMA's permanent collections, will be showing through March 24. Call 621-7567 for gallery hours.
Rather, non-objective art demands some interaction with the work itself. Nothing is instantly recognizable or related to the real world. You must decipher what the art means. Art appreciation here is a dialogue between what you perceive in the work visually and what you can relate it to in your own mind.

But this challenge of non-objective art is also its greatest reward.

"The insights we gain from such exercise generally are earned with some effort and, therefore, perhaps they are more savory," said UAMA curator Peter Briggs.

In attempting to provide an overview or non-objective art, Eminent Delights includes the most common themes and art movements of the three decades. The most prevalent issues are space, time, shape and color.

Within this context, the biggest disparity in the exhibit is between the linear and non-linear styles. Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella and Donald Judd best represent these styles. Works like Kelly's "Untitled (Red-Orange Over Black)" and Judd's "Untitled (Cadmium Yellow Light)" display the austere style, clean geometric lines and bold colors of this approach.

Unfortunately, the collection leaves out a contemporary of Kelly and Stella, and the color-field master Mark Rothko. Those interested in this exhibit should also check out Rothko's "Green on Blue" in the upstairs gallery.

At the other end of the spectrum, artists Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and John Cage exemplify the more accidental and disordered non-linear style. In Cage's two works, he shows randomly placed lines and circles. In the non-linear works, artists explore how non-objective does not necessarily mean perfectly ordered, geometric and symmetrical. Their universe is all about chaos and chance. John's piece "Fragments - According to What Coat Hanger and Spoon" presents the only realistically recognizable objects in the collection. In his pop-art /neo-Dada mode, John just leaves these objects to speak for themselves, leaving it up to the audience to contemplate exactly why.

The greatest challenge to Eminent Delights is in incorporating so many different styles and art movements from such a creatively explosive and diverse era. Examples of minimalism, conceptualism, pop-art and neo-Dada are all displayed, side by side. The huge stylistic differences between the works are made obvious, showing just how diverse postmodern art is.