James Brooks



Not on display
James Brooks 1906–1992
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1803 x 1730 mm
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1959

Catalogue entry

James Brooks born 1906 [- 1992]

T00253 Boon 1957

Inscribed 'J. Brooks' b.l.
Oil on canvas, 71 x 68 1/8 (180 x 173); the paint surface also extends around the stretcher
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1959
Prov: With Stable Gallery, New York (purchased from the artist); Friends of the Tate Gallery
Exh: James Brooks, Stable Gallery, New York, March-April 1957 (no catalogue); American Paintings, 1945-1957, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, June-September 1957 (20); 1957 Annual Exhibition, Whitney Museum, New York, November 1957-January 1958 (56, repr.); American Painting 1958, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, March-April 1958 (works not numbered)
Lit: Bernard Chaet, 'Studio Talk' in Arts, XXXIII, January 1959, p.67, repr.
Repr: Arts and Architecture, LXXIV, May 1957, p.10; Ronald Alley, Recent American Art (London 1969), pl.10

The artist wrote with regard to this picture (letter of 7 February 1960): '"Boon 1957" is in oil color on cotton duck canvas, which had been isolated with rabbit skin glue. Around 1956-7 I occasionally used a white pigment in Poly-vynal acetate (a synthetic resin emulsion). I don't think there is any in this picture, but there may be.

'The painting is completely abstract - having been developed from a purely improvised start and held into a non-figurative channel.

'As to the title, the name originates as identification only, but generally the painting and the title share a kind of meaning, later. I used to number my paintings, then later lettered them, calling them A, B, or C down to Z, purely according to their sequence in that year of production. Neither of these systems worked well. Neither I nor anyone else could remember individual paintings by that system.

'Now I use the same sequence but complete the initial with a made up word, without too much attention to its evocative value, depending on its long association with the picture to develop a meaning. The titles are an attempt to avoid a name whose associations will be read into the picture, except in rare cases (such as a dedication, as "Jackson").'

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.83-4, reproduced p.83


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