Bruce Piermarini, Hatred

Bruce Piermarini “Hatred”, 2000, 84″ x 84″

Oliver Wendell Holmes Quote

Moffett’s Artletter 2.0

Kenworth Moffett

Dear Artlover,

The vanguard critic is presumptive enough to think that his vision will be the truth of the future. He finds himself cast as a prophet. The works of certain artists have astonished him and he must spread the word. I challenge you, the visitor to this site, with my belief that if I can show you my truth about art, it can forever change the way you see the rest of contemporary art, and I am inviting you to come to my home and see for yourself.

Moffett’s Artletter 2.0 is both this invitation and an online journal of my art opinions. I hold a PhD. in Art History and am a former professor, curator, and museum director. (See biography.) Moffett’s Art Letter 2.0 is an updated version of Moffett’s Artletter, which I published from 1987 to 1989. Both offer my vision of contemporary painting and sculpture. Most of all, I want to point out who I think the greatest geniuses are, and where the Modernist Mainstream is.

Outside New York, heroic Modernism has been born again. Over the past 20 years, a bold new generation of creative individuals and a new technology, have produced a brand new Modernist painting. This would be the new acrylic paintings of the so-called “New New” painters. Their pictures are stunningly original, visually dazzling and vibrantly alive. Here is the most exciting group of painters to come along since the New York School. The New New consists of Lucy Baker, Steve Brent, Joseph Drapell, John Gittins, Roy Lerner, Anne Low, Marjorie Minkin, Irene Neal, Gérard Paire, Graham Peacock, Bruce Piermarini and Jerald Webster. Their number and influence continue to grow. The New New have had over 25 shows together at venues in the United States, as well as in Canada, France, Germany, Belgium and even Korea. They have had 10 museum shows. In 1993, they were given a large exhibition at the Museé d’Art Modern et d’Art Contemporian in Nice. In 2000, they were shown at the Hotel de Ville in Brussels, and last year they were given a major show at the National Gallery of the Czech Republic in Prague.

Lucy Baker 1984, On Plexi
Lucy Baker 1984, On Plexi

But a large, vital, Modernist Movement with a new vision of painting, does not fit New York’s market-driven, Post Modernist paradigm. So you cannot see the New New in New York’s museums or elite commercial galleries. It is a scandal, but it is true. For all of its resources and sophistication, New York has become provincial when it comes to Mainstream Modernist painting.

Where then to see the New New? Make no mistake, New New must be seen in the flesh, up close and personal. Those who know New New work in reproduction are amazed by its visual vitality when they finally see the originals.

I have assembled the New New Collection, a representative collection of New New paintings in my home in Stamford, Connecticut, and I am inviting you, the visitor to this site, to come and see it. I believe that you will find the collection exhilarating and mind expanding. It is the only place in the New York metropolitan area where you can see New New. It joins the Museum of New New painting in Toronto, founded by Joseph Drapell and Anna MacLachlan in 2001, as an ongoing showcase for New New painting.

John Gittins, Roy Lerner, and Marjorie Minkin
John Gittins, Roy Lerner, and Marjorie Minkin

Stamford is 50 minutes by train from N.Y.C. and easily accessible by car. The collection contains over 70 works, some quite large. In addition to New New paintings, there are also outstanding examples of Color Field paintings by Jules Olitski, Kenneth Noland, Fridel Dzubas, Jack Bush and Larry Poons, masters on whose shoulders the New New stand. I give a tour of about 1 hour, on Saturdays at 11:00AM or by appointment. Places are limited so you must call to make a reservation (203-356-9573). The tour is free and without obligation of any kind. (See link for directions.)


Joseph Drapell,
Joseph Drapell, “Meditative”, 2003, 60″ x 40″

The New New Group

The English art historian, Alan Bowness, has written that “most truly original new art is the result of group activity. It appears that the conjunction of several exceptional talents results in something that is greater than the parts”. This has been true throughout history and especially in modern times, when a group of artists with a shared new vision, often find themselves isolated outside the official art world. Under these conditions, a group provides confirmation, inspiration, competition (maintaining level), the sharing of technical information, and exhibition opportunities. New York’s official art world should ponder why it is that the New New is the only such avant garde group on the scene today.

The name “New New Painting” is meant in part ironically but also seriously. It is a challenge and bespeaks a brassy confidence. The New New have a New York attitude and might be called the “New York School Outside New York”. They are an international group of individuals, most of whom are Americans, and all of whom visit New York City often, but none of whom live or work there. They live in towns in New England and New York State, with individual members in Toronto, Edmonton and Paris. Outside New York, it is cheaper to live and one avoids becoming part of the intense matrix that is New York and its art world. One is more easily in touch with oneself. Already with Pollock’s move to East Hampton in 1945, New York School painting, which was all about getting and keeping in touch with oneself, felt more at home outside New York City. This was repeated with the Washington Color School and the group at Bennington Vermont in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Although scattered between France and Western Canada, the New New are their own audience, like the original New York School. Each is strongly independent and geographically isolated. Ease of travel and cyberspace lets painting’s avant garde exist today without urban watering holes like cafes and bars.

The New New at The Flint Museum 1999
The New New at The Flint Museum 1999

What is New New Painting?

New New painting can be said to spring from three sources:

1. All of the New New painters see themselves as successors of Jackson Pollock and The New York School: Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting. They see this as the Modernist Mainstream, a continuous, self-aware, “tradition of the new”, which began with Pollock and has been unfolding over the last 60 years. Second generation Colorfield painters and especially Jules Olitski were the dominant figures, within this tradition in the ’70s, and early ’80s, when the New New were young artists searching for themselves. Almost all of them had an early Olitski – influenced phase. They worship Olitski as the painter’s painter, the non plus ultra of exquisite refinement and sublimity. They also love Morris Louis’ passionate purity and sweeping power as well as Kenneth Noland’s bold, brilliant, pure color improvisations. They have been inspired by Larry Poon’s indulgence and audacity in handling the medium. Helen Frankenthaler, Friedel Dzubus and Jack Bush were also among their heroes. And they were confirmed by Walter Darby Bannard, Dan Christensen, Peter Bradley, Larry Zox, Ronnie Landfield, Jill Nathanson, Sandi Slone, Darryl Hughto, Susan Roth and many others.

It is testimony to the largeness of Olitski’s art that he dominated the Mainstream, New York School painting, for so long. Only in 1982 did a challenger appear, one who was strong enough, large enough, and unique enough, to challenge Olitski and set Modernist painting on a new course. This was Lucy Baker. Neither a pure colorist like Noland, nor a pure painter like Olitski, she is an expressionist, sculptor – draughtsman type, like Picasso, David Smith or Pollock, who constantly returns to the human figure, and who knows how to make paint serve the artistic will. Baker electrifies Color Field with her ferocious drawing even as she set gross physicality against its disembodied opticality. Instead of a light and color inflected field, there is a clash of extremes. Almost simultaneously, Baker’s colleague, Graham Peacock, an Englishman living in Canada, created his own version of pure color plus raw expressionism and the New New was born.

Lucy Baker ,
Lucy Baker , “El Nino”, 1997, 53″ x 94″

2. The New New have been deeply involved with the extraordinary technological development of acrylic paints and gels during the past 25 years. Their love of the new medium energizes their pictures. Their creative use of it was featured in a two part article about acrylics in American Artists by Laurie S. Horwitz which appeared in 1994. Acrylics enable the New New to recreate a very contemporary visual world of feeling: distinctly plastic, holographic, transparent, reflective, translucent, iridescent, glitzy, glossy, and with lots of eye popping color. Their paintings have the dark energy of our most passionate rockers (like Kurdt Kobain) or fiercest rappers (like Eminem), but are far more sublimated, thanks to the medium of painting, and an extravagant, psychedelic sensuality made possible by the new plastic paints. Perhaps the New New should be called “high tech Neo Expressionism” or “Graffiti Art at a higher level” or “Punk meets Colorfield”.

Steve Brent
Steve Brent “Justice”, 1997, 18″x27″x 6″

3. The New New all proclaim the spiritual meaning of Modernist painting, as we find it proclaimed by Kandinsky, Mondrian, Malevich and the earliest “Non-Objective” painters. In a strictly personal way, the spiritual was also proclaimed by Pollock and the first generation of the New York School, most memorably by Barnett Newman, Clifford Still, and Mark Rothko. The New New too, seek the sublime. They too are shameless romantics. As the critic. Donald Kuspit has written, the New New show “an unembarrassed sense of soul.” “Above all”, he writes, “what must be emphasized about the New New painters is their painterly excess, even violence, with its virtually overwhelming sense of erotic richness and fatal energy, bringing in its wake a sense of sounding the depths of unconscious emotion-or rather, of a sense of self we only become fleetingly conscious of in ecstasy. They have broken out of the sterile, depleted cul de sac of postpainterly abstraction, bringing new life and intensity, depth and energy…”

Graham Peacock,
Graham Peacock, “Euphrates Smiles”, 2001-2003, 90″x43″x2″

Jerry Webster ,
Jerry Webster , “Mountain Jig”, 1990, 68 3/4″x47 1/2 “