William Baziotes has historically been associated with the movement known as Abstract Expressionism because of his close ties to the Betty Parsons Gallery; yet, in many ways, his work is more closely related to the field of European Surrealism.
Whirlwind, painted in 1957 and acquired from the Samuel M. Kootz Gallery by a collector from Texas the following year, depicts free-floating and overlapping shapes set against an ethereal background of thinly stained pink paint. Though the beige shape on the far right suggests the shape of a woman’s legs and abdomen, the forms ultimately demonstrate Baziotes’s interest in automatism and automatic drawing, which was intended to utilize the unconscious as a source of inspiration. Drawings would be made through the free movement of one’s hand without conscious thought, with artists embracing random elements of paint application that were ultimately “free from aesthetic or moral preoccupations”
Commenting on attempts to understand his paintings, Baziotes quoted one of his literary heroes, the French poet Charles Baudelaire, who said, “I have a horror of being easily understood.”