17 Items in this Learning Collection
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Untitled Cube

Accession Number

Untitled Cube

Alvin D. Loving

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
acrylic on canvas

40 1/2 in. x 34 3/4 in. ( 102.8 cm x 88.2 cm )

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Although he arrived in New York from Detroit in 1968 a "full blown, East Coast, Abstract Expressionist painter," Al Loving had already chosen the square as his primary structure. This University of Michigan graduate (M.F.A., 1964) began to explore the illusionistic effects allowed by color, and the square evolved into a hard-edged Minimalist cube. Ten months after his arrival in New York, Loving was invited to have a one-man show at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Loving readily admits that the exhibition had less to do with art than with the political pressure that had developed out of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s for museums to increase exhibition opportunities for black artists. It was after the Whitney show that Loving moved away from the cube as a motif in his work.
Loving thought of his cubes as not only going back into space, but also occupying the surface plane and projecting, visually, out from the plane. Reacting to the idea that the history of art since the Renaissance has involved illusion created from the picture plane back, away from the viewer and into the painting, Loving has said that he wanted to "paint a three-dimensional painting on a two-dimensional ground.... [I]t seemed to me that by the end of the millennium, there should be something in front of the picture plane, to the picture plane and beyond the picture plane. All three."
Sean M. Ulmer, University Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, for "A Matter of Degree: Abstraction in Twentieth-Century Art," November 10, 2001 - January 27, 2002

Subject matter
Loving was intrigued by the history of perspective in painting and wanted to create a piece in which the vanishing point for the perspective is in front of the painted surface, toward the viewer, rather than within the surface. The result is a representation of depth that seems to protrude from the surface rather than creating the illusion of space inside the canvas.

Physical Description
A framework three-dimensional cube sits at an angle so that one of its corners appears to protrude from the center of the piece. The cube is gray, with dark gray shading on the shadowed edges, and dark and light yellow shading on the lit edges. The canvas is cut to the dimensions of the cube.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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Op art
acrylic paintings (visual works)
cubes (geometric figures)
geometric abstraction
geometric shapes
inverted perspective
modern and contemporary art

9 Related Resources

CrOsS-SeCtIoN (2019)
(Part of: Sight & Sound: A New Way to Experience UMMA's 'Collection Ensemble')
"18th Century Kuba King Figures"
(Part of: Kuba Articles)
Community Blocks
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
#6 Contemporary Art - Abstract Forms
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
U.S. Afrofuturisms
(Part of: F20 Boisseron - AAS 271 / ENGLISH 274 - Afrofuturisms presents and pasts)
Mindfulness Images and Prompts
(Part of: Lesson Plans)
Student Curatorial Project: African-American artists in UMMA's collection
(Part of: W21 and W22 Ellsworth - AAS 290 - The Tulsa Race Massacre)

& Author Notes

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On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ FFW, 2nd floor ➜ 218 (Eleanor Noyes Crumpacker)