Edwin Abbott's 1884 cult classic sci-fi novella Flatland follows a (literal) square, a humble citizen of the 2D world that gives the story its name. Mr Square is stunned to discover the spheres and pyramids of the third dimension (or Spaceland), and the story ends with the square as a heretic, imagining still more possible dimensions. Al Held had a lot in common with that square; he began his career with resolutely 2D work in the traditional, abstract expressionist mold, but as the decades passed he moved from Flatland to Spaceland, filling his canvases with shapes that pulse with their own strange energy. 1985's “West End” is like peeking through the window of a modernist apartment where a noisy party for abstract objects is in full swing, with purple arches flirting with pinkish triangles as yellow swirls eavesdrop. Held died in 2005, with Flatland a distant memory, Spaceland conquered and still more dimensions waiting to be discovered.
Al Held: The Evolution of Style at the University Art Museum, College of the Arts
California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90840
June 26–August 10, 2008