Fuller Potter: about his art

Copyright 2004-2005 Ovadia Salama
Fuller Potter's landscapes, portraits, still lives, and abstractions are  dreamlike invitations to an inward distant voyage. Each painting or drawing takes you by the hand for a
trip into infinity.His  art never was easy to understand, but it always was a fascination for visitors to his workshop, shown in the video clips on this site. As they would stare at
one of his paintings, they would feel irresistibly immersed in it, and carried away for a strange voyage. The longer they would watch, the further they would travel, the more
distant worlds they would discover.  
Fuller Potter, 1969,Couple, 36"x50", Oil on Canvas
Upon coming down to earth, the observer  would walk away from the workshop, only to come back to it, unwilling to depart without
acquiring a painting. This could be done at yard sales, sometimes called "Celebration Sales", "Giveaway Festivals", or "Buy or Burn
Sales", when big and small works were thumbtacked on the walls of Fuller's workshop (known as the Temple), made to stand next to
each other in the yard, or hanged to high branches of trees. Seldom were any records made as to changes of ownership.  
Fuller Potter's paintings often come in groups or styles. When seen together, the paintings or the drawings in each group seem to be at first very similar, even redundant.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Just as
DNA sequences are made of  made of very similar but very different long  and convoluted components whose actual message lies in the pattern of subtle changes from one  to the next, in the same Fuller's patterns of
shapes, forms and movement are different. The differences are the carriers of meaning. Evolution and flux seem to happen in slow motion, in response to definite laws of harmony, plasticity, gravity, and other forces yet
unknown.  Like a set of  "cloud career" pictures, or a set of still nebula explosion pictures, the color set is the same, the white and the blue of the sky remain basically the same, yet the movement, the shades and the
unpredictable changes in massive forms are quite awesome.
Living room with Fuller Potter's elongated vertical paintings
Today,  many of such sequences, the "maps of the mind" as Fuller liked to call them, are broken and dispersed around,
but fascinating strands are extant or can be easily assembled.  

Fuller Potter worked with all media of his time, including photography, overlaid Polaroid prints, collage, plastic sculpture,
wooden and metal sculptures. His favorite medium was music. All sorts of musical and percussion instruments could
be found occupying one third of his huge "Temple".
Click, for a visit to Fuller Potter's Workshop.
Fuller Potter started as a figurative painter. He had a short cubist
period, then he became inspired by Jackson Pollock, who was an
acquaintance of his and a close friend of his brother Jeffrey
Potter, the author of  a biography of Pollock, in which Fuller is
mentioned in various places. Yet not a single piece of  Fuller's
work could be mistaken for a Pollock. Fuller's drawings and
paintings convey a different message altogether. It is a  unifying
all encompassing vision of the Universe in motion, ranging from
molecules in random motion, to whirling big bangs, to expanding
galaxies: a roadmap to the Universe and a roadmap to the Mind.
Fuller Potter, Arrival, 1969, Oil on Canvas, 35"x46"
Fuller Potter is one of the great artists of the twentieth century.  He lived a quiet, almost reclusive life, focusing on family, community work, and on putting his  energy into the
production of art, in its various forms. He was indeed open to all prevailing influences and styles, prudently adopting them with  significant time lags. Indeed, he needed to mark
the trends with his personal imprint.
More details: Click
Although a user of a parsimonious palette in his larger paintings, Fuller Potter was in fact a great master of color. An infinite variety of enchanting symphonies of colors, shapes
and movement, are found in his cardboard paintings, which he liked to call  "shirt boards" .Serenity is paradoxical term to use in connection with Fuller Potter's work, insofar as
many of his pieces are projecting an energy akin to violence. But this violence is devoid from aggressiveness. It reflects the clash of elements, and he turmoil always reveals a
path which can be followed by the perplexed space traveller, propelled into immensity, Perplexed and wary, yet serene.
Ovadia Salama
New York, NY
July 2004
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