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Better than digging up a timecapsule
on January 20, 2001
The Abstract Expressionists have been cannonized and mythologized to such an extent by popular culture, that the reality of the most important American Art Movement is difficult to experience from the recent books and treatises on the subject. Painters Painting, itself an important art work by film-maker Emile de Antonio, propels us back into that existentialist time in such a complete and satisfying way, that we finish feeling like we just had dinner ourselves with all the suspects of the time at the Cedar Tavern . We discover even the notorious critic Hilton Kramer has a face. From deKooning to Warhol, the musings of the artists include Frankenthaler, Hoffman, Motherwell, Barnett Newman (my personal favorite in this film: "I believe that art theory is to me as an artist what ornithology must be for the birds"), Johns, Rauschenberg, Noland, Olitsky, Pavia, Poons, and Frank Stella. Interviews include the controversial Clement Greenberg at his best. As you can tell from the artist list, the film begins with Abstract Expressionism, winds its way through Hard-Edge and Color Field painting, before it finishes with the Grande Dame of the New York Art Scene of the 60's, Andy Warhol. This is a documentary not to be missed.