“I must start to paint. Too much thinking and writing will get me nowhere.” Porfirio DiDonna.

First glance at this late color field painting, hanging in a small college stairwell in 2006, the skeptical tourist might think, “acoustic panel?” Or, “did the paint slip off?” Or, “Hmmm” and keep hoofing toward the next place to be.

The moment, the confluence of sensual ego art with academic Art Forum theory, is hard to imagine once dominating the art market – more to explain!

Quickly – this is the only hanging Porfirio DiDonna in Oregon, at the Fred W Fields Center for the Visual Arts at Lewis & Clark College in SW Portland, a gift of Martin Schmukler, a NYC criminal defense attorney – not an alum. DiDonna, born & died in Brooklyn, 1942-1986, repped by the Nielson Gallery in NYC. Died unexpectedly, a brain tumor. Well, who plans these things?

Here’s the review you dreamed they would write for you, from the NY Times, 1973, review of a group show at OK Harris, “The most prepossessing and certainly the most peculiar of these painters as Porfirio DiDonna who covers his canvases with minute dots of color spaced at intervals in a grid of horizontal lines. The canvases are white or gray, the lines are usually in pencil and the dots of one or more pale colors. DiDonna’s art qualifies, for me, a Color Field because, from a distance, the dots melt into an effect of faint over-all shimmer. Close-up, however, it is rather Spartan. There is a handmade roughness and irregularity to the execution and deployment of the dots, which, by their nature, suggest some kind of rational system, though none is apparent.”

“DiDonna’s work is like no one else’s I can think of. Its mixture of elegance, austerity and quirky casualness seems wholly original, and it’s a pleasure.”

Wow. Huh. Let me look at that again. But go ahead and Google DiDonna and see all the wild human sexy Italian paintings he made prior to converting to the color field nonsense late in life. It’s unlikely the art Pioneers ambling by know what this picture is – both the artist and donors names are mislabeled.

For more on color field – again the skeptical tourist – see Tom Wolfe’s short text, The Painted Word.

More DiDonna – Essay by Addison Parks and Artforum, December 1994

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