One of the most important trends in art of the 20th century was an ongoing coming-to-terms with what representation could be. The rise to prominence at the beginning of the century of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, and Henri Matisse, who questioned conventional notions of what constituted art and what was appropriate for a painted canvas, allowed artists by the middle of the 20th century not only to rid the painting of any reference to the natural world, but even to challenge the conventional notions of what shape a canvas could take.
Works in this exhibition, provided by Bank of America’s Art in our Communities program, approach sculpture in a manner that made many in the 1960s and 1970s rather uncomfortable, as the lines between the purity of the canvas and the presence of the three-dimensional started to blur. Taken together, these five artists provide a 30-year view into one of the most persistent questions: how to reconcile the two-dimensional painted surface with reality of a three-dimensional space Frank Stella’s Damascus Gate II (1968), Ellsworth Kelly’s Black with White Triangle (1973) and Sam Gilliam’s Blowing (2000) afford us the opportunity to see how the desire to push the actual structure of the painted surface into new forms — and, with the case of Gilliam, to actually remove the infrastructure altogether. Helen Frankenthaler's Spanning (1971) and Sam Francis’ Untitled (Ffp-76) (1976) show us the work of two artists who used the traditional canvas and frame set-up, but through the use of color and form pushed the boundary of the painting itself beyond the confines of the paintings’ edges. Together these artists argue that the work exists as a sum of its formal elements and not as an extension of a representational program, and call attention to the physical quality of the canvas itself.
The Tampa Museum of Art is pleased to present these important works of modern and contemporary art from the corporate collection of Bank of America. Through its Art in our Communities Program, Bank of America has converted its corporate art collection into a unique community resource from which museums and nonprofit galleries may borrow complete or customized exhibitions. By providing these exhibitions and the support required to host them, this program helps sustain community engagement and generate vital revenue for the nonprofits, creating stability in local communities. From 2008-2010, Bank of America will have loaned more than 30 exhibitions to museums nationwide.