Gretchen Albrecht

Geomorphology

1974
signed Albrecht and dated 74 in ink lower right; Barry Lett Galleries label affixed verso
1110mm x 735mm

Provenance

Acquired from Barry Lett Galleries, Auckland, 1977.

Exhibitions

Barry Lett Galleries, Auckland, 1975.

Essay

This large, elegaic watercolour is from a series of fifteen or so that utilized two joined sheets of watercolour paper in order to achieve a new, bolder scale better suited to t...

Read full text
Estimate $15,000 - $20,000

Gretchen Albrecht

Geomorphology

1974

signed Albrecht and dated 74 in ink lower right; Barry Lett Galleries label affixed verso

1110mm x 735mm

Auction N˚1

Estimate $15,000 - $20,000

Geomorphology

by James Ross

This large, elegaic watercolour is from a series of fifteen or so that utilized two joined sheets of watercolour paper in order to achieve a new, bolder scale better suited to the ideas that were evolving out of Albrecht’s paintings. Albrecht had already been working with liquid acrylic paint applied directly onto raw, unprimed canvas for three years, and these watercolours represent a continuation of her interest in the brushy manipulation of thin paint. The taller ‘portrait’ format provides a dramatic new arena for the stacked forms depicted in this work, allowing for a vertical, scroll-like reading.

This use of thinned down paint, as many commentators have noted, is a direct response to the work of the American colour-field painters: Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and Helen Frankenthaler, the latter providing Albrecht with the most clues as to how to handle this new medium. The important distinction between Albrecht and these painters (which has been less widely commented on) is Albrecht’s reliance on nature-based imagery, constructed and compositionally centered on the canvas as it was being worked, as opposed to  Frankenthaler’s more Surrealist process. Frankenthaler’s works are characterized by an unconscious, automatic approach to image-making, in which the composition is finally determined, perhaps even discovered, in the very final stages of the work’s creation by a vigorous cropping, something Albrecht has always eschewed.

As the title indicates, Geomorphology consists of a series of energetic bands that suggest a geologic or natural origin, such as cloud layers, weather fronts, seasonal changes, or distant landscape elements, as well as the more obvious geologic strata.  Indeed, Albrecht’s watercolour titles from this period refer to all of these things: Black & Red Cloud Bands, Winter Grey and Red, and more prosaically and abstractly, Crimson Bands, Grey/Red Above and Peach Centre.