George Ortman American (Oakland, Ca., 1926) untitled 1982.001.053
American (Oakland, Ca., 1926)
Reacting against expressionism and gestural painting but not against abstraction, George Ortman pursues essential mysteries by means of geometric symbolism. His work occupies a unique niche in 20th century American art after AbEx and before minimalism or Op (optical) abstract styles. While Robert Indiana declares “eternal hexagon” within his mandala form, Ortman uses a vocabulary of symmetrical universal forms -- squares, circles, crosses, equilateral triangles and the primary colors yellow, red, blue -- to create contemplative objects. His work is constructed or pieced together like a quilt or layered like pieces on a game board. This print uses the reverse of his additive process by cutting out forms. The absent crosses don’t disappear; instead, their shadows borrow dimension from the space behind the picture plane.