The Abstract Expressionism exhibition that closed at the Royal Academy in January illustrated the monumental importance of black to many of the artists. The exhibition described black and the use of darkness as, ' inherently provocative , mysterious and reductive ' which captures the quality of Ad Reinhardt's black on black Abstract Painting, which initially seem uniformly black until closer inspection where one finds different tones black floating on black. In contrast Franz Kline uses bold black abstract strokes against white paint.
Louise Nevelson's sculpture Sky Cathedral and Clifford Still's painting PH-554 have a monolithic power to them through their use of black. The exhibition describes Nevelson's black as aristocratic.
The artists in the exhibition have disparate styles and approaches but they capture a mystical quality to black that hasn't been present in art since the Middle Ages.
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