FOUNDATIONS ONECITY


The 1960s was a period when Insley challenged the accepted formal limits of art; a result was his subsequent fascination with modular, repetitive structures. 


The need for discipline in spatial organization manifested itself throughout Insley’s career, and led to his lifetime project, ONECITY, to which he dedicated 50 years. Drawings, paintings and a site-specific specific installation from ONECITY were presented by the Guggenheim Museum, NYC in the 1984 solo exhibition “The Opaque Civilization.” The last pages of this publication include later paintings from this period.  In the 2007 leading art publication, The New American Abstraction 1950-1970, Claudine Humblet writes the following:

“A chance encounter with a work of Frank Stella’s Moroccan period, seen at Richard Bellamy’s Green Gallery in 1963, and the astonished admiration it caused were the factors triggering a new awakening.  The idea of the need to “think as an architect” resurfaced.  Insley succumbed to the fascination of the repetitive structure of Stella’s painting with its alternating diagonal stripes of yellow and green, the “clarity of Liquitex color,” the unity of texture, and the “absolute structure of the image.”

“Insley’s complex effort to explore unusual forms, accompanied by the discipline of spatial organization—the precise field in which the architectural vocation could still assert itself—is eloquently expressed in these works of 1963–64.  Insley explored freedom of form in relation to the innovative concepts of his time, and followed Stellaby asserting in 1964 that “the painting is an object” (“The painting is the object itself”).”

EARLY WORK

PAINTINGS

In Insley’s own words, “between ‘61 and ‘63 I did my first series of shaped paintings, using cloverleaf forms around a central hole. […] My painting quickly shed all its ‘painting’ aspects save its diagrammatic nature and moved into the mind in search of the source of its fragments.” The paintings from this series are modular and can be taken apart and put back together. The colors are flat acrylic stripes of primaries or tones and reflect Insley's growing preoccupation with the structure of space and the geometry of color. Two series from this period consist reflect other explorations which Insley did not develop: the black paintings of various shapes, both symmetrical and non-symmetrical, and the "rulers" of various sizes, some monumental (both single and in the shape of a abstract gate). 

Insley Installation view
Insley Installation view

Left: Wall Fragment 64, 1964 acrylic on masonite 72 x 72 inches Center: Wall Fragment 64.4, 1966-7 acrylic on masonite 96 x 96 inches

INSLEY_Wall Fragment 67
INSLEY_Wall Fragment 67

1967 acrylic on masonite 96 inches diameter

Wall Fragment No.68.1
Wall Fragment No.68.1

1968 acrylic on masonite 8 x 120 inches

Insley Installation view
Insley Installation view

Left: Wall Fragment 64, 1964 acrylic on masonite 72 x 72 inches Center: Wall Fragment 64.4, 1966-7 acrylic on masonite 96 x 96 inches

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STRUCTURAL MODELS & WORKS ON PAPER

The structural models illustrate the various steps of the creative process, to highlight the artist’s meticulous process as well as his creative imagination. The 1960s was a period when Insley reevaluated the formal limits of his art and moved in a different direction. At the time, he explored the potential of modular and repetitive structures in various media. He started by drawing, painting and collaging meticulous scale structural models which replicated the future structure of the painting.

Study for Wall Fragment No. 66.4
Study for Wall Fragment No. 66.4

1964, tempera, pencil on paper, 18 x 24 inches

Study for “Wall Fragment No. 65.14 S
Study for “Wall Fragment No. 65.14 S

1964, tempera, pencil on paper, 18 x 24 inches, stamped by the Estate

Study for Lust 64.7
Study for Lust 64.7

1964, tempera, pencil on paper, 18 x 24 inches, stamped by the Estate

Study for Wind 64.6
Study for Wind 64.6

1964, pencil on paper, 18 x 24

Study for Larger Work II
Study for Larger Work II

tempera, pencil on paper, 9 x 12 inches, stamped by the Estate

Structural Model 19
Structural Model 19

1950s, acrylic on ragboard, 13 x 13 inches

Structural Model 26
Structural Model 26

1950s, acrylic on ragboard, 10 x 10 inches

Structural Model 18
Structural Model 18

1950s, acrylic on ragboard, 9 x 9 inches

Structural Model 17
Structural Model 17

1950s, acrylic on ragboard, 9 x 9 inches

Structural Model 14
Structural Model 14

1950s, acrylic on ragboard, 10 x 10 inches

Structural Model 12
Structural Model 12

1950s, acrylic on ragboard, 10 x 10 inches

Structural Model 10
Structural Model 10

1950s, acrylic on ragboard, 8 x 8 inches

Structural Model 06
Structural Model 06

1950s, acrylic on ragboard, 10 x 10 inches

Structural Model 07
Structural Model 07

1950s, acrylic on ragboard, 10 x 10 inches

Structural Model 04
Structural Model 04

1950s, acrylic on ragboard, 10 x 10 inches

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Will Insley © WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC