Friday, 1 July 2011

James Brooks

While painting in Maine in the summer of 1948, Brooks had an artistic breakthrough. He discovered that the glue paste he used to attach his paper to canvas accidentally bled through to the side with his images. He started to exploit this staining technique, moving beyond the more rigid format of his Cubist-inspired compositions. In addition, he relied more heavily on automatism and free brushwork, creating images that showed the influence of Pollock’s action painting methods.

Beginning in the 1950s, while continuing to construct multi-layered canvases filled with small, irregular shapes and thin, fluid lines, Brooks transformed the surface of his pictures. He experimented with the thinning and drying of the medium and with applying mixtures of commercial enamels and oils directly from the tube to create a matte surface and to limit the viscosity of the pigment. From the 1960s on, Brooks simplified his compositions, abandoning the densely packed character of his earlier works. Color, however, remained a consistent and essential ingredient in his pictures, and he frequently started with colored grounds rather than plain white canvas. As the art historian Lisa Mintz Messinger observes, “It is interesting to note that Brooks’s Long Island home, which he shares with his wife, the artist Charlotte Park, is filled with delightful and unexpected accents of bright color. White walls and white furniture are juxtaposed against painted wooden floors of mustard yellow, green, and blue and painted yellow ceiling beams.”

Biography snippet from

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