Beyond The Canon: Small Scale American Abstraction 1945-1965
Abstract Expressionism defined not only the quintessential modern experience, but was also the birthplace of American modernism. Yet the understanding of this movement was fit into an inaccurate and restrictive Greenbergian and Rosenbergian vision - a canon. How appropriate then that at a time of national self-examination we disinter the diverse seeds of American modernism to recover our diverse heritage Beyond the Canon.
More than 60 artists associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement are exhibited, demonstrating the variety hidden by canonical understandings. And with such diversity comes numerous challenges to limited orthodox interpretation.
This exhibition challenges dominantly held beliefs of the movement's origins and dates, especially the central myth that the "all-over" style of painting began with Pollock's work on Long Island. Integrating other artists and their works exposes as fallacious the separation between generations, an imposed structure that carries the implication of derivation and segregates the contributions of women from their male contemporaries. This show questions the myth of masculine power in a post-war world where women made paintings as powerfully gestural and tensional as the men. Conversely, the intimacy and beauty of the pieces counter issues of existentialist isolation. The inclusion of African American and Latinos with their canonical peers exposes the racial segregation imposed more by historical interpretation than by historical fact. The inclusion of West Coast artists widens the scope of the movement from its center in New York, rejecting an aesthetically reductive cartography. Additionally, works on paper and collages in the show challenge the hierarchical purity of medium and means. That so much of the work wrestles with figuration and figure-ground relations also challenges the concept that abstraction and representational painting were not contiguous.
Abstract Expressionism will continue to be associated with heroic paintings of white male artists that went on to be interpreted as exemplifying the power and vistas of the post-war United States. The discovery that most of these artists also created intimate works of intense beauty that lack none of the vigor of the large works not only counters a much reinvented fact, it raises positive questions about the nature of the American experience and character in the post-war era and today.
Please join us in viewing work by these artists at the Robert Miller Gallery: Mary Abbott, William Baziotes, Norman Bluhm, James Brooks, Byron Browne, Fritz Bultman, Peter Busa, Nicholas Carone, Giorgio Cavallon, Herman Cherry, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, Beauford Delaney, Richard Diebenkorn, Friedel Dzubas, Jimmy Ernst, Herbert Ferber, John Ferren, Perle Fine, Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Michael Goldberg, Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Philip Guston, Grace Hartigan, Al Held, Hans Hofmann, Paul Jenkins, Franz Kline, Albert Kotin, Lee Krasner, Alfred Leslie, Norman Lewis, John Little, Michael Loew, Morris Louis, Beatrice Mandelman, Conrad Marca-Relli, Fred Mitchell, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Jules Olitski, Alfonso Ossorio, Charlotte Park, Vincent Pepi, Jackson Pollock, Richard Pousette-Dart, Melville Price, Ad Reinhardt, Milton Resnick, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Ralph Rosenborg, Anne Ryan, Ethel Schwabacher, Charles Seliger, Harold Shapinsky, Janet Sobel, Vivian Springford, Theodoros Stamos, Alma Thomas, Yvonne Thomas, Mark Tobey, Jack Tworkov, Esteban Vicente, Michael West, and Hale Woodruff.