Note: This painting is currently the highlight of a survey celebrating the centennial of Irving Kriesberg’s birth at the Seattle Art Fair (Booth D05) Aug 1-4, 2019 presented in collaboration with Vin Gallery and the Estate of Irving Kriesberg.
Painted in 1975, Blue Stockings features “one of the most insistent of Kriesberg’s images: a striding creature, an anthropomorphized animal or an animalesque man,” wrote historian Dore Ashton on the occasion of Kriesberg’s solo exhibition at Terry Dintenfass Gallery in 1978.
Kriesberg's striding figures were an important series referencing two impulses, according to Ashton: “that which seeks stasis, and that which seeks mobility […] There are limbs such as hands, feet, wings, paws that gesticulate. But there are also forms such as implicit rectangles, triangles and circles that suggest monumental immobility.” In this work a figure with its striding blue stilts is set against an abstract ground with a very high horizon line. “The moment is designed,” described Ashton, “because Kriesberg uses diagonals against a static horizon line.” Whereby the “horizon [is] the static foil for the great striding diagonals.” In Blue Stockings the arms of the strider loop back on themselves forming a symmetry of circles that break against a solid horizon. By minimizing all but the acting limbs, expression is given wholly to the extension of the striding legs.
The striding figure is a motif Kriesberg would return to again and again during the mid to late 1970s. Sitting Bull Walker (1975) pictured below is an other example from this historic series.