For over twenty years [published in 1989], one of my intents in life has been to help other people respond to abstract visual expression. The origin of the “mission” was a “retrospective party in Milwaukee in 1968.
Owners of my paintings were invited to come to my home and bring the paintings-kind of like a Thanksgiving celebration with all my “kids” coming back home! Lively discussions about the meaning of each of the paintings punctuated the evening, and eventually I was asked to verify my guests' interpretations of give my own “stories behind the works.” When I was asked how I felt about having a little booklet of write-ups as a memento of the party, their response was enthusiastic. Portions of that small book are now incorporated in this book, in the “Old Testament” section of write-ups about early paintings.
At about the same time, I learned about a remark overheard in the main lobby of a corporation where my painting, “prelude,” was hung: “I like it, but what is it?” I asked and was given permission, to place an explanation next to the work. I did so. A later comment was, “Now that's what abstract Art needs, now I can understand it!”
From the beginnings, I continued my writing about my works with the hope of somewhere down the line putting them into an expanded book to help others respond to abstract art.
While not intended as an autobiography, this book does begin with a brief essay on my early years as an artist. My own late awakening to the possibilities of abstract art explains why I have a special empathy for the difficulties involved in responding to abstract visual “language.”
My breakthrough, which occurred in Paris under the profound teaching of George McNeil a disciple of Hans Hofmann,* is then described and illustrated. McNeil not only understood and taught Hofmann's principles but also added his own concept: “Interiorize!”
Next, the theories, concepts, and working methods of both Hofmann and McNeil, are personally interpreted and discussed in detail.
But most of the book is devoted to illustrations and writings about some of my paintings and graphics and the techniques, thoughts, agonies, and joys behind their creation.
Interwoven among all this are essays and comments dealing with my own deeply and philosophies of Life and Art.
My hope is that the universality of the very personal experiences revealed in my works and the words will enable you to relate to the power of abstract visual expression to communicate, to share, and to make life more meaningful.
*Hans Hofmann is considered “the father of abstract expressionism.” His book, “Search for the Real,” is a treatise of his concepts and theories.