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" PAINTERLY "
Despite what some unseasoned art critics have been saying lately, “painterly” is quite a different thing from simply painted. In earlier times when almost all artworks were painted, art makers knew that some paintings were “painterly” and some were not. At certain periods, painterly painting was “out” (most of the renaissance) while at other episodes, very much “in” (German Expressionism).

The way to look at it is easy: in a painterly painting, the paint handling is something you will really notice. The artist’s interest in the paint is fore-fronted, and the handling reflects that artists mood and personality; indeed paint handling becomes a notable element of that artist’s style.
 
Artful Circle’s most famous vocabulary word! “Painterly” means that the artist has applied pigments expressively: the brushstrokes are usually visible and there is a texture showing where the paint is evident in notable quantity (usual in this approach) and contrasting with more thinly painted areas. There is no attempt to make the flow of paint exactly even or conceal the stop and start of given brushstroke. Whether the paint is glossy and thick, or thin and matte, are possible variations, among many others, that might coexist in the same painting. Splatters, and smears, if desired, are embraced within this approach along with the stray drip. The opposite approach is where brushwork is smoothed down, individual strokes “licked” together until they disappear into a unified whole. (think of Photorealist Richard Estes- painted indeed, but not painterly!) 
Painterly painting is usually done broadly, at times energetically, reflecting movements of the artist’s arm or wrist rather than holding a brush tightly between the fingers. In realism, typical painterly painters would be Fairfield Porter, Jane Freilicher, and Janet Fish. The depiction of miniscule details is not possible in truly painterly painting. In abstraction, De Kooning is a classic case: all of his paintings are “painterly.” 
Helen Frankenthaler is not regarded as especially “painterly”, because the dominant effect in her work is pigment that has been soaked into the unprimed canvas surface to produce a stained effect. The occasional painterly element in her work (with a build up of impasto paint) occurs rarely, as a note of deliberate contrast to the much larger areas of thinly stained paint.. The critic Clement Greenberg classed her work as “post painterly” abstraction, in part because of its prevailing flatness.

Painterly “facture” means where individual strokes are rather clearly defined, sometimes attaining distinctive individual shapes (that would be the case with van Gogh, and while this might occur in the works of Impressionists such as Monet, it is less pronounced.) Painterly “incident” is where areas of the painting show the impact of paint handling done with different degrees of force or techniques to produce collisions or “incidents” (Joan Mitchell, Franz Kline).

Like most descriptive terms in art, painterly effects are present either absolutely or up to a degree. The nuances of this contribute to the discussion!
Photo Captions:
Painterly portraits: "Portrait of JFK" by Elaine de Kooning and the post gun-shot portrait of "Andy Warhol" by Alice Neel were created in 1963 and 1970, respectively.
Debbie Wells blends right in with this colorful painting by Wolf Kahn at Miles McEnery Gallery in Chelsea
"Strawberries, Lemon Pie" by Janet Fish is a perfect example of painterly painting.
Bonni Stanley poses in front of a Helen Frankenthaler painting at the Parrish Museum in the Hamptons
ARTFUL CIRCLE QUIZ
Which of these artists paint in the painterly style?
Answers at bottom of this email.
A
B
C
D
E
F
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ANSWERS
Painterly: A : Willem DeKooning; C : Claude Monet; E : Berthe Morisot
Not Painterly: B : Frank Stella; D: Roy Lichtenstein; F: Richard Estes