Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949–1962 will focus on one of the most significant consequences of the rise of abstraction in 20th-century painting: artists' literal assault on the picture plane. Responding to the social and political climate of the postwar period—especially the crisis of humanity resulting from the atomic bomb—artists in the United States and abroad ripped, cut, burned, or affixed objects to the traditionally two-dimensional canvas. Painting the Void marks the first time that these strategies have been considered together as a coherent mode of artistic production. The exhibition presents an opportunity to reconsider the profound repercussions of this approach in the realm of painting: from artists’ early experiments with the materiality of gesture, to the expansion of the medium to incorporate performance, time-based, and assemblage strategies. The exhibition focuses in particular on many of the earliest experiments of artists who moved the two-dimensional medium of painting towards the three-dimensionality of sculpture.
Curated by former MOCA Chief Curator Paul Schimmel, Destroy the Picture will feature more than 90 breakthrough works created between the late 1940s and the early 1960s by 26 artists from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
A fully illustrated, 250-page catalogue, with color reproductions of all works, co-published with Rizzoli, will accompany the exhibition.
Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949-1962 is presented by the Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Major support of the exhibition is provided by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, Sterling Ruby in honor of Paul Schimmel, and Mandy and Cliff Einstein.
Generous support is provided by the LLWW Foundation, Lillian P. Lovelace, Herta and Paul Amir, The Audrey and Sydney Irmas Charitable Foundation, and Susan and David Gersh.
Additional support is provided by Etant donnes, the French-American Fund for Contemporary Art; The Japan Foundation; The Dedalus Foundation; Wonmi and Kihong Kwon; Cynthia Miscikowski and Ring-Miscikowski Trust; Dallas Price-Van Breda; Lois G. Rosen; Jane Siegal; Pamela Smith; Beth Swofford; and Pamela West.
In-kind media support is provided by KCRW 89.9 FM.