Vincent Longo ( 1923-2017 )

Amagansett, New York, USA

My lineage comes out of Klee, Picasso and Kandinsky by way of New York and Pollock and de Kooning. But underlying those impulses of the 40s and 50s abstraction was the steadying and more final (for me) example of Mondrian, hence I was a member of the Club and also a member of the American Abstract Artists; the former disbanded in the early 60s, the latter is ongoing and I’m still part of it.

But Worringer’s Abstraction and Empathy, at the onset of Cubism and early Non-Objective painting, had a profound effect on how artists thought about their medium and how it fit into their collective psyche. He equated abstract art with inwardness. But his examples of abstract art came out of Egyptian and prehistoric ornament.

My work with abstract ideas has a connection with both of the above tendencies. It tends to combine automatic gestural invention (more obvious in my prints) with geometric repetitions. Since the mid-60s, my syntax has mainly consisted of grids and lattices and circle/square centering. These constructs usually start by crossing a vertical with a horizontal in the plane’s center, thus creating four quadrants, each of which are similarly divided to become a center to edge operation and the basic procedure for all that follows: an automatic and systematic composing activity dealing with repetition, rhythm and a preoccupation with the age-old unifying quality of the number four and its multiples—prominent in mandala symbolism and rather archetypical signs of wholeness—which are configured in most of the work.

Most recent paintings are representations of window lattices (not literal) as musings on indeterminate space, depth, and surface, with suggestions of figure/ground ambivalence and hue change. The entirely symmetrical use of form is not immediately apparent to most viewers of these works because, I think, other visual aspects seem to point to other considerations and effects that are a result of a special interest in this kind of abstraction.

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