Al Held - Pachinko
American, 1928 - 2005
Pachinko, 1989
Woodcut, 26.25 x 33.5 inches
Edition 68/125
Crown Point Press

Gift of Thomas S. Porter (MBA '67)

Al Held's style dominated abstraction in the 1960s. Also known as Formalist Abstraction, this was an art whose expressive power derived from pure color and design, not from any preferences to the visual world of appearances nor to literary content.

Al Held's art is linked to 1960s abstraction known variously as Color Field or Hard-Edge. This was an art of pure color and shape, in Held's case one that favored geometric form. Another print by the artist in the Business School collection, the aquatint Magenta (1990), is representative of this tradition where the title itself is a simple reference to the subtle use of a particular color in the composition. Pachinko, which was created in the same workshop a year later, is an example of how meaning in abstraction can also be generated by title. Pachinko is a pinball-like machine that is very popular in Japan. Descended from a game invented in Chicago, it appeared in Japan in the 1920s. Computerized in the 1980s, its sounds and graphics are complex and energetic. Held's woodcut therefore becomes an abstract visual analogy that references the character of the game. What makes meaning additionally layered in Held's print is that it is a woodcut, whose technique and production embraces the tradition of the Japanese woodblock print. For the creation of Pachinko in Kyoto, Japan, Held collaborated with two celebrated masters: Shunzo Matsuda, who carved the woodblocks; and, Tadashi Toda, who printed the woodcut on traditional Echizen Kozo paper.