Exposition Art Blog: Al Loving - Abstract art collage

Al Loving - Abstract art collage

Alvin D. Loving (September 19, 1935 – June 21, 2005), better known as Al Loving was an African-American abstract expressionist painter. His work is known for hard-edge abstraction, fabric constructions, and large paper collages, all exploring complicated color relationships.Inspired by a visit to the Whitney Museum's exhibition "Abstract Design in American Quilts," in the early 1970s, Loving takes his canvases off the stretcher bars and begins experimenting. He started hanging strips of canvas from the walls and ceilings, playing with our perception of pictorial and sculptural ideals. Then, he reattached the fragments together with a sewing machine, creating large flowing fabric constructions. At first he painted the pieces of canvas, but later switched to dying the fabric. This way of working was not born out of a vacuum; Sam Gilliam, Alan Shields, and Richard Moch were also using the sewing machine. In fact, Loving considered himself within the context of abstract expressionism at this phase in his career; though he was not a painter but a material abstractionist.
Finally, by the 1980s, Loving had grown tired of fabric, too. So, he begins to integrated other materials into his constructions, such as corrugated cardboard and rag paper. Loving quickly took a liking to the casualness of tearing cardboard and gluing it onto other pieces; in fact, he considered this practice abstract expressionist as well. Unlike the fabric constructions, the large paper collages gave him a sense of freedom because he was trekking through uncharted territory (although this work has been likened to Frank Stella's curvilinear metal reliefs and Elizabeth Murray's shaped canvases). Loving integrated circles and spirals into these collages as a nod to his African roots and as an expression of growth and continued life. In the piece, Perpetual Motion (1994)(DASNY), Loving integrated materials such as cardboard and print. The cardboard is cut and overlapped to form a series of spirals. Each spiral has been carefully painted and placed to create dynamic color relationships. They do not have conventional matting under them, glass to cover them or frames to surround them: instead they cling flatly to the wall. Sandra Yolles, reviewing an exhibition in 1990, explained "Loving’s work is about earth, wind, fire, and water: some pieces might be considered atmospheric maps of life at full blast—stretching the possibilities of the human spirit by delineating its directions, currents, and eddies.Wikipedia

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