Painting – the Extended Field


Preface by David Neuman, Director Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, and Bo Nilsson, Director Rooseum
Painting – The Extended Field, essay by Sven-Olov Wallenstein, Swedish Philosopher and Professor

Exhibition catalogue no 16
No of pages:
136, color, illustrated
soft cover

Language: Swedish and English
Year: 1996
Publisher: Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall

Available for purchase in our museum entrance for 300 SEK (approx. 30 EUR)


Preface by David Neuman and Bo Nilsson

The position of painting has been the subject of ongoing debate virtually since the end of the nineteenth century when photography emerged as a strong competitor in the depiction of reality. Not until the 1960’s and the first signs of the disintegration of modernism, however, did today’s debate become visible in embryonic form. This debate has largely centered on the concepts of life and death. The fact that it came to be couched in such drastic terms has its roots in the late modernist notion which found its most significant expression in Clement Greenberg’s representational world. The basic tenet of his theory was that, during its golden era, modernism had reduced everything which was not aesthetic in order to express the pure essence. As a result of this process of reduction, modernist painting eventually found itself in a blind alley in which internal issues became increasingly esoteric. All that remained was an interest in the minutia of painting, where every decision about the thickness of the stretcher or the size of the grain of the canvas assumed the proportion of important artistic decisions. What else could be reduced to allow painting to preserve its aesthetic immunity? In spite of the collapse of modernism, the question does not appear to have been conclusively settled: painting is often described as an endangered art form which must be kept uncontaminated by the chaotic multifariousness of contemporary reality in order to preserve its specific character or essence.

Very few believe today that painting will survive only as an institutionalized relic of the modernist era. There is faith in painting as a flexible practice which must reject its internal concerns in order to be renewed.

This has meant that attention has shifted from the limitations of painting to its possibilities. This is especially evident in a number of exhibitions during the last few years: Unbound – Possibilities in Painting (Hayward Gallery, London 1994), Pittura Immedia – Malerei in den 90er Jahren, (Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum, Joanneum, Graz, 1995), Das Abenteuer der Malerei – Eine Reise in die Bildkunst der neunziger Jahre. (Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart and Kunstverein für die Rheinlände und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 1995), Des Limites du tableau – les possibles de la peinture (Museé départemental de Rochechouart, 1995), Painting Outside Painting – 44th Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, (Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington 1995-96). (…)