The Art Itself: Abstraction

In my previous post, I said what I really want to write about is the art itself. A significant part of “art itself” is the viewer’s reading of it. When people tell me they love Tunson’s abstract paintings, I often wonder if they see what I see in a piece. Do they detect differences in different periods? Do they see Tunson’s evolution as an abstract painter?

Ernest Hemingway allegedly said that every writer has basically one story to tell. In a sense, this is true of Tunson’s art in that it’s recursive. But when he returns to the abstract genre every few years, it is not to the exact same place.

If you’re curious about the evolution of Tunson’s “one story,” then play along with me. Below are works from three decades. Study them and identify what you think is their chronology.


Did you get it right? The top piece (Untitled 122) was completed in 2011; the middle (Untitled 95), in 2002; the bottom (Untitled 58), 1987. If you view the pieces in reverse order, you might assume that the compositions become simpler, more condensed, less intricate. But are these observations complete, accurate, or telling? You might assume that Tunson’s most recent work will resemble the style of Untitled 122. Take a look at the piece below. Where, in the chronology do you think it belongs?

I know where it fits, but if you want to know, you’ll just have to ask me.