In a summer which afforded me less studio time than I would've liked, I decided to turn my energy toward getting some reading done. The doorway to the rabbit hole was Charles Gaines: Palm Trees and Other Works, specifically an essay by David Platzker.
I had been turned on to Charles Gaines this past September, after a discussion with Laura August, my wise mentor on all things art-academic. She noticed my interest in systems---specifically how simultaneously liberating and constraining they can be---and pointed me toward Gaines. I was immediately taken by his work and his thinking---how had I never heard of him before??---but couldn't put my finger on how his practice could inform mine. I ordered the only catalog of his work still in print (Palm Trees & Other Work), but needed to put it aside until I could figure out how to approach it more effectively.
Coming back to it this summer, after having experimented with Grids and gridded work during the spring, I found the essay by Platzker interesting in itself, but what really piqued my interest was a reference to an essay by Rosalind Krauss entitled, simply enough, Grids.
After spelunking into the rabbit hole of Grids in art, and taking a lay of the terrain, I found an interesting set of seminal literature on the subject, listed here in chronological order.
1966 - Lawrence Alloway, Systemic Painting
1972 (Jan) - Lucy Lippard, Top to Bottom, Left to Right
1972 (May) - John Elderfield, Grids
1975 - Amy Goldin, Patterns, Grids, and Painting
1979 - Rosalind Krauss, Grids
2003 - Meghan Dailey, Living Inside the Grid
2009 - Margarita Tupitsyn, The Grid as a Checkpoint of Modernity
2014 - Jonathan Koestlé-Cate, Grids: A Kraussian Perspective on New Windows for the Church [PDF]
2018 - Gilbert Vicario, Morphemes, Graphemes, and Boustrophedonics [in Matt Magee: Works 2012-2018]
2020 - David Platzker, A Love Supreme: Charles Gaines and Trees
I find the idea of grids endlessly fascinating, and of course pertinent to my practice---from my single-line drawings (both abstract and portrait) to my recent explicitly gridded portraits. The essays above were full of insight I could apply to my current work, and much food for thought to guide future investigation.
This list could make an excellent introductory course on the subject for anyone wanting to dig deeper. I'll post brief reactions to each essay in subsequent posts, but if you want the punchline now, the essays by Goldin, Krauss and Elderfield stood out as milestones in the literature.