Part of an ongoing series featuring works that constitute the building blocks of the MCA Collection, MCA DNA: New York School showcases important paintings and sculptures from the heroic American genre of Abstract Expressionism. The group of artists characterized as the “New York School” broke away from traditional painting conventions in both subject matter and technique. The artwork on view by twentieth century masters including Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, and Isamu Noguchi vibrantly captures the rebellious spirit of the post-World War II era in an intimate gallery setting.
A few of these works have been regularly displayed in our galleries, such as Kline’s 1955 painting Vawdavitch, which will be shown alongside two of the artist’s rarely seen works on paper. Yet others, such as a moody, untitled 1969 work by Rothko, have not been on view since the opening of the MCA’s current building in 1996. As a new generation of artists resuscitates interest in abstract painting, it seems high time to present this work anew. Another fascinating work that has rarely been shown is a vibrant canvas by the Spanish-born, New York–based artist Esteban Vicente, who was a leading figure of the New York School. Sculptors are often overlooked within this group, but another rarely seen work in the collection by the underrated artist Richard Stankiewicz, Middle-Aged Couple (1954), will be featured alongside three-dimensional works by better-known artists such as de Kooning and Isamu Noguchi, reflecting the depths and strengths of our highly diverse holdings.
This exhibition is organized by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.