After Abstract Expressionism

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Spacial Construction, 1974 Acrylic On Canvas © Courtesy of the artist and Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
After Abstract Expressionism
Curated by: Kathryn Koca Polite

500 East Peabody Drive
Champaign, Illinois 61820
January 27th, 2012 - April 29th, 2012
Opening: January 26th, 2012 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Other (outside main areas)
(217) 333-1861
Tuesday–Saturday, 9–5 pm, Thursday, 9 am–9 pm, Sunday, 2–5 pm
works on paper, installation, sculpture


Post-war Abstract Expressionism had established itself as a popular style within the art world by the late 1950s. However, at that time many artists did not share the same interest in exploring the inner creativity of the artist and began to challenge the Abstract Expressionists by turning almost exclusively to culture. Instead of exploring the artist's individuality, these assemblage and Pop artists renewed a relationship between art and everyday life by incorporating popular culture through the use of found objects and images from popular media.

Artists continued to challenge how the meaning of works of art was uncovered during the radical 1960s and into the 1970s. Rather than finding meaning exclusively within the work, artists placed more emphasis on the context in which the work of art existed. The context became increasingly more social and political, which pushed the boundaries of what constituted art. This interrogation, which ushered in the age of Postmodernism, looked back to the same issues that French artist Marcel Duchamp was confronting in the early twentieth century. As artists began to use a diverse range of media, they continued to blur the lines of art and life.

This installation from the museum's permanent collection highlights a broad range of artistic styles, mainly from the United States, during the late 1950s through the 1970s, from Nouveau Réalisme to Pop Art and Minimalism. This selection, including paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by Sam Francis, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, Niki de Saint-Phalle, and Frank Stella, illustrates the various ways that artists attacked notions of modernism in very diverse styles.