Association for Art History conference 2019

Activity: Organising a conference or workshopParticipating in a conference or workshopResearch


‘Minimum Security Painting: Increased Dimensionalities and the Expanded Field.’

Writing in the 2006 exhibition catalogue High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting 1967-1975, Katy Siegel noted that the lifting of prohibitions in the late 1960s brought with it the demise of “maximum security painting,” a term she uses to describe the modernist abstraction of Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitiski and Morris Louis. However, and as she also points out, “painting wasn’t at an end…but only a certain definition of painting…”

In real terms, Siegel’s admission denotes the fact that the reductivism of this approach to painting was at odds with and ran counter to what one might describe was a minimum-security version of the medium, a version that, during the period in question, had gained a measure of critical purchase.

Marked by an “increased dimensionality,” (to borrow Carolee Schneemann’s term), the work of Sam Gilliam, Lynda Benglis and Karen Carson nevertheless foregrounded its relationship to, if not its identification as painting.
This paper will explore the historical moment during which artists sought to extend the parameters of the medium beyond formalist abstraction and beyond the perceived reductivism of Greenberg’s criticism.

Moreover, and echoing Siegel’s statement, what will be claimed is that although the lifting of prohibitions heralded the demise of a particular approach to abstraction and by extension the topology of modernism it had become most readily associated with, a certain definition of painting and by extension, a certain definition of modernism remained. To this end, the aim of Minimum Security Painting: Increased Dimensionalities and the Expanded Field will be to seek to examine a historical moment wherein a minimum-security version of the medium sought to reconsider its position in relation to a more discursively expanded field of production.

Period6 Apr 2019
Event typeConference
LocationBrighton, United Kingdom