Dean Fleming Paints the Fourth Dimension

Dean Fleming Paints the Fourth Dimension

I first uncovered about Dean Fleming when I obtained the catalogue for the exhibition Reimagining House: The Park Place Gallery Team in 1960s New York, which was proven at the Blanton Museum in Austin (September 28, 2008–January 18, 2009) and curated by Linda Dalrymple Henderson. My curiosity in this group of painters and sculptors, and their preoccupation with room and the “fourth dimension” (which, according to the push launch, suggests “a dimension past top, duration and width”) has increased more than the yrs, as I have acquired and created about the get the job done of Leo Valledor, Robert Grosvenor, David Novros, and Mark di Suvero — who had been between the first 10 customers (evenly split between painters and sculptors) of this cooperative gallery — and their collective problems. Since then my fascination in Fleming has grown. 

As Henderson points out in her catalogue essay, citing an early supporter of the group, the artwork critic David Bourdon: “this was not classical geometry — akin to Dutch de Stijl — but alternatively a dynamic, new geometry of elaborate spatial outcomes.” In other phrases, this was not Minimalism and its obeisance to the theories of Clement Greenberg and Donald Judd, their insistence on flatness and the elimination of house in painting. In the mid-1960s, as the art environment began to attract boundaries and employ descriptors to determine teams, the artists involved with the Park Position Gallery and their fascination in what Henderson describes as “spatially intricate, tricky-edge painting,” never ever got branded. Partly for that motive, their contributions have been largely overlooked. 

Dean Fleming, “65 Black” (1965), acrylic on canvas, 32 x 32 x 1 inches

This is what fascinated me in the exhibition Dean Fleming: Fourth Dimension at David Richard Gallery (September 16-November 4, 2022). Of the 16 performs in the demonstrate, 10 are paintings from 1965 and the relaxation are paintings and operates on paper from 1964. The rapid, seemingly effortless change from geometric patterning and tessellations, which combine mosaic-like surfaces, to substantial, tricky-edged, sharply angled planes and diamonds that convey an unstable, optically shifting room, signaled a alter in conceptual imagining. Regardless of what the motive for the improve, 1 issue is apparent: Fleming (along with Valledor and Edwin Ruda, whom I have nevertheless to publish about) turned down Minimalism, but not geometry.

Just one of the essential options of Jackson Pollock’s poured paintings was his repudiation of the boundaries imposed by the rectangular floor with which he interacted. Donald Judd observed the painting’s character, as a rectangular plane positioned flat from the wall, as a problem. Fleming and his cohort observed the painting’s character alternatively as a obstacle, and Judd’s situation as an orthodoxy that emerged out of a materialist way of wondering that ignored both of those the non secular and science, the unseen and the fourth dimension. 

In “Orange Line” (1964), a modest gouache (presumably a analyze for a painting), Fleming divides the square canvas into rows of rectangles, different their width in accordance to a formulation. He then divides each rectangle into four triangles, every a various colour (still if we choose any two adjacent rectangles, we see that Fleming used 7 shades relatively than eight). Together, the colours and divisions infuse the patterning with a visual instability that stands apart from a lot of abstraction from the mid-1960s. 

Dean Fleming, “Orange Line” (1964), gouache on paper, 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches

At the identical time, it is crystal clear that Fleming’s paintings have been not contained by their bodily parameters, and that the styles convey an uninterrupted continuity that goes past the work’s edges. The optical fluctuations increase to the knowledge. 

In the 1965 paintings, Fleming abandons patterning in favor of larger and much less shapes. Due to the fact the shapes share or intersect with the painting’s edges, none of them look contained in the photograph airplane and the compositions obtain a dynamism that contrasts the repetition and static compositions that are central to Minimalism. A lot more importantly, his use of white as a colour in paintings these as “Black White Crimson,” “Black Blue Red White,” and “White Yellow Black” (all 1965) indicates not a flat aircraft, but probably an opening we can’t see into. By composing the white space as a diamond or culminating it in a sharp triangle, as in the a person that factors downward in “Black White Crimson,” Fleming demonstrates the Cold War era’s preoccupation with spacecraft, and the race to the moon. Well known for his painting “Black Square” (1915), depicting a black sq. on a white ground, Kazimir Malevich, the ground breaking Russian painter and theorist, considered that white was the colour of infinity and connoted a realm of larger feeling and a domain of pure type. Fleming’s operate extends out of Malevich’s geometry and that of other Russian Suprematists. 

Dean Fleming, “65 Yellow White and Black” (1965), acrylic on canvas, 70 x 89 1/2 inches

The sharp angles of Fleming’s planes, which are never ever repetitive or modular kinds, recommend that he did not accept the commonplace, reductive narrative of painting’s trajectory, setting up up to the tautology that artwork had to be about art. This posture would seem significant, significantly at a time when the artwork environment celebrates the materiality of Damien Hirst’s use of industrial diamonds and Jeff Koons’s significant-priced fabrications.

According to some critics, a great deal of art is neglected for a motive. If we take that, we may also want to contemplate that some art is remembered, by however couple, for a explanation. Even though the 1960s was dominated by Minimalism, Color Field painting, and Op Art — all of which ended up branded — Fleming and his cohort by no means realized that standing. But not acquiring a branded design and style appears to me a signal of independence that prefigures the present moment, when signature types and manufacturing-line dependability are named into query in some quarters of the artwork world. (Curated by Katy Siegel, with David Reed serving as curatorial advisor, the 2006 touring exhibition Substantial Moments, Hard Situations: New York Portray 1967 – 1975 served to remind us that the heritage of portray remains complex, intriguing, complicated, and energetic.) The truth that Fleming is not improved identified reiterates that there is nevertheless far more to be completed. 

Dean Fleming, “Tunis” (1964), gouache on paper, 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches
Dean Fleming, “65 Purple” (1965), acrylic on canvas, 32 x 32 inches

Dean Fleming: Fourth Dimension proceeds at David Richard Gallery (526 West 26th Street, Suite 311, Chelsea, Manhattan) by means of November 4. The exhibition was structured by the gallery.