The Tune is Red, oil on canvas, Hassel Smith, 1960 (full painting)
I have often been asked why I like 20th Century abstract art. The phrasing of the questions have ranged from speculation on whether or not the questioner's child or grandchild could have easily done the same thing to something along the lines of I just don't get it. In truth, I cannot simply explain my attraction to abstract art both of and influenced by this period, so I thought I would muse on that notion a bit.
My first art appreciation course was not until my second or third semester of college here in San Francisco. It was a fairly pedestrian course, one which covered all of the hits and a handful of misses. As a side note: I recall the end of term project that I created for this class: a piece of assemblage, which I white-washed with tempura paint, so I was already showing my colors so to speak. By this time, I had already been exposed to a few minor abstract works via 12-inch LP covers, having got hip to jazz records in high school. Another influence, no doubt, was psychedelic art of the 1960s, something that I spent no meager amount of time digging deep into during my high school and college years. The sum total was that abstract works just captured my interest and imagination more than any other form of visual art - save perhaps architecture and design. So I did which I so often do when something piques my interest, I dug deeper and deeper until I found the good stuff.
The Tune is Red, oil on canvas, Hassel Smith, 1960 (detail 1)
The Tune is Red, oil on canvas, Hassel Smith, 1960 (detail 2)
The Tune is Red, oil on canvas, Hassel Smith, 1960 (detail 3)
Note: the painting featured on this page is currently residing at the Cantor Arts Center on the Stanford University campus. Admission is free, so all you need to do it get your self there to see this one. The artist, Hassel Smith, is one of the many of that era whose love for jazz music was reflected in his work. Smith spent a significant amount of time in the San Francisco-Bay Area and was also an important early part of the Ferus Gallery scene in Los Angeles. His remarkable timeline can be found here.