Ellsworth Kelly unquestionably has a place in art history. I was never excited by his work. I felt it made sense and has relevance in its timeframe, that is, in the step by step linear history of art and the development of abstraction and minimalism. But beyond that, it felt repetitious and nothing more than variations on a theme. When he breaks from the simple geometric shapes painted a color (blue square etc) and "pushes" a bit - using organic shapes, juxtaposing shapes and colors, channeling Matisse and Rothko - those pieces are much more interesting, IMHO.
Although brief, this video of EK talking about his work is insightful. I find his earlier work with shadows, like the painting in blue of parts of shadows based on his photo of the stairs (seen in the video), to be far more intriguing than a black square or yellow rhombus.
Even at his age, it's wonderful to see an artist still jazzed by painting and his personal visions.
These days Twitter looms large ala Trump. If one didn't know that Raymond Pettibon started adding text to his work in the mid-2000s, it would seem as if he was inspired by Twitter, which is not the case. Most of the text in his pieces do resemble short social media posts, some clear and concise, some scattered or truncated like a random late night thought (cough, Trump reference again, cough) or lines lifted from poems or lyrics.There are several aspects to his work: juvenile doodler, prolific output, strong composition, illustration, fine art, activistic commentary, and an "outsider artist" aspect to some of the artwork as well as the seemingly burning pace and "need" to produce. True or not, several who've seen this show have expressed similar thoughts. One thing for sure, this exhibit is intense, almost exhausting because there is so much to see and most of it reaches out and grabs or punches the viewer.
The political bent of many pieces read at times like the work of an internet troll, except the internet wasn't around for someone to remark on Manson, the hippie movement, drugs, Watergate, JFK, Vietnam and so on. Pettibon comments on these with the tone of someone who lived through it all and saw upclose the effects on his and others' lives.
I get the feeling that there's a bitterness, a disappointment for him the way some of these things turned out that many were optimistic about at first like LSD or the hippie lifestyle. Although not really old enough to be fully invested in either (he was 10 in '67, 13 in '70, etc) he was old enough to be aware of the turmoils in society, to see and hear the ripple effects of the War, Nixon, drugs etc. Later, the Iraq War and Reagan would rear their heads in his work. One cannot help but wonder what Mr. Pettibon is going to produce now and in the next few years with the unusual and extreme election we just had and the results that are yet to unfold.
His first notoriety came from doing the artwork for older brother Greg Ginn's punk band, Black Flag in 1976.