If you turn towards abstraction, you are always concerned with the means of the paint itself. Paint itself became important, became a subject for exploration. The way paint was put on became an important thing, as important for the painter as a gesture is for a dancer.
- Jack Tworkov
Phyllis Tuchman and Jack Tworkov, “An Interview with Jack Tworkov,” Artforum, January 1971, pp. 62-68.
Jack Tworkov (1900-1982) forged a disciplined aesthetic through techniques, transitions, and variations on compositions that score an artistic career still today avidly discussed and celebrated—the one constant being Tworkov’s gestural “mark.”
Ending (1967-72) defines Tworkov’s evolving aesthetic. Painted over the course of six years, and revised twice, the work features brawny swaths of marks in mauves moving over a darker underpainting—the narrative, a sweeping borderless veil of color. This is the final painting in a series of ten Tworkov began in the Summer of 1967. Each painting in the series was titled and numbered sequentially verso as SSP (Summer Series Provincetown).
The composition reads as a veil pulled open to the light. In many ways referencing Tworkov’s epic Barrier Series, which the artist described in 1968:
“[…] large, looming, perhaps threatening masses entering the canvas usually from the top and side. These masses or formations avoided hard outlines and were the result of an accumulation of rather long strokes, which served as a basic structural element akin to the dot in a Seurat painting. The color in these paintings was more tonal, more naturalistic and tended towards the Monochromatic."
Tworkov limited himself to a literally non-chromatic palette of greys […] at this point Tworkov also moved to a new medium—oil pigment mixed with a vehicle of lucite dissolved in turpentine—which would keep the brushstrokes distinct from one another in much the same way as the charcoal lines retained their identity […] The quicker drying also results in a surface with the same faceted clarity of late Impressionism without limiting the brushstrokes to those small jabs of color.
"Quartered and Drawn." Art News 70 (March 1971), pp. 48–49.
If earlier paintings in the SSP Series offer a dark moody and menacing response, this painting is the climax of color and light. First exhibited publically at French & Co (April 15-May 11, 1972), which was favorably reviewed by one of Tworkov’s most hostile critics, John Canaday of The New York Times, and garnered praise from Barbara Rose in New York Magazine.
Ending was additionally exhibited at Harcus Krakow Rosen Sonnabend Gallery in Boston in January 1974, where writer Mary Lou Kelley commented on the painting’s quality of “quietude.”
Seventeen years later, Ending was featured in a survey of paintings 1930-1981, mounted by André Emmerich. In her review in Art in America, Ann Wilson Lloyd singled out Ending as an important “transitional” painting connecting Tworkov’s early and late work:
[…] in an appropriately titled transitional painting, Ending, his gesture and his colors seem to be doing penance for their earlier lack of restraint. A mass of gray/blue marks has been marshaled, drawn together to mask a field of dark green upon which formulae or instructions appear to be written.
- Ann Wilson Lloyd
“Jack Tworkov at Emmerich,” Art in America, December 1991, pp. 120-121.
Estate of Jack Tworkov, New York
French & Company, New York, NY, "Jack Tworkov," April 15–May 11, 1972.
Harcus / Krakow / Rosen / Sonnabend Gallery, Boston, MA, "Jack Tworkov / Recent Paintings," January 5–February 2, 1974.
André Emmerich Gallery, New York, NY, "Jack Tworkov: Paintings from 1930 to 1981," February 7–March 9, 1991. Ill. in color in exhibition catalogue pl. 7.
Armstrong, Richard. Jack Tworkov: Paintings, 1928-1982. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1987. Ill. in b&w pl. 58.
Lloyd, Ann Wilson. "Jack Tworkov at Emmerich." Art in America 79:12 (December 1991), mentioned, p. 120
Considered a signature painting in the oeuvre of Tworkov, Ending (SSP #9) has not been exhibited or offered publicly since 1991.
The Estate of Jack Tworkov is represented exclusively by Van Doren Waxter, New York. All images of artworks by Jack Tworkov © 2020 Estate of Jack Tworkov / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY