Afterimages: Geometric Abstraction and Perception

Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries
October 2, 2021-January 9, 2022

During the 1960s and ‘70s, many abstract artists made their work bold, bright, and dazzling in new and exciting ways. For some of them, scientific discoveries about human sight led the way to wild perceptual effects, from pulsating patterns to fluctuating colors and afterimages that linger even after viewers turn to look at something else. Others were guided simply by their intuition and a desire to test the limits of our eyes and minds. At times these artists even outpaced science by creating works with unanticipated, unexplained visual properties.

Swept up in a pervasive sense of optimism, many of these artists felt that they were helping art to take an evolutionary step forward. Their new approach had global appeal, taking hold in New York, Los Angeles, and Paris, but also Eastern Europe, South America, Japan, and even Northeast Ohio.

Afterimages presents this energetic historical period through paintings, sculptures, prints, and even a large-scale immersive installation that allows viewers to enter a maze of translucent color. All of these works are united by a common directness. They were not created to illustrate complicated ideas or to express hidden emotions. Instead, they exist primarily for the visual and mental experience that comes simply from looking at them. Their effects are exciting, bewildering, and can even feel overwhelming, and they are intended to be clear and immediately accessible.