Letter to the Editor



Dear Editor,

I read with great interest Donald Kuspit’s article on “Romantic Realism” [Summer 2015], which I found very clear. I have never read any explanation of the foundation and method of Abstract Expressionism as convincing as that of Kuspit’s. He made clear the feelings of isolation, alienation, disgust and coarseness in Expressionist paintings from Pollock to de Kooning, and he could have used other examples.

But I wonder about other painters, such as Stanley Twardowicz (1917– 2008), whose late canvases do not seem to me to enshrine any of those feelings of anomie and confusion one sees in so many Abstract Expressionists. Once Stanley said to me: “The feeling is in the painting.” But this feeling seemed to me to be peaceful, congruent, harmonious, and I wondered if Kuspit had painted all Abstract Expressionists with too broad a brush.

Something like this happened during the heights of Existentialist influence. Sartre had described in Nausea (1938) the feelings of revulsion that the experience of existence, unmasked, undefined, shapeless, unadorned, caused Roquentin to puke. So everybody concluded that this was the only result of the Existentialist experience. But the experience of existence unformed, nameless, ill-defined, need not have this effect. Clearly, the return to “the Uncarved Block” in Taoism does not have it, nor does the “objectless samadhi” of Buddhism. In fact, the dissolution of lineaments and forms can have an astonishingly positive effect, an exhilaration to match the purest ecstasy.

I was just wondering about this.


Ignacio L. Götz, Ph.D.

Stessin Distinguished Professor Emeritus, New College of Hofstra University


August 5, 2015

 American Arts Quarterly, Fall 2015, Volume 35, Number 4