September 24, 2016 — January 2, 2017
Royal Academy of Arts, London
“These are not paintings in the usual sense; they are life and death merging in fearful union. As for me, they kindle a fire; through them I breathe again, hold a golden cord, find my own revelation.” (Clyfford Still)
Long overdue, this first major survey of Abstract Expressionism since 1957 features paintings, sculpture and photography by Pollock, Rothko, Still, de Kooning, Newman, Kline, Smith, Guston and Gorky, among others. Postwar anxieties, Beat poetry, jazz, new demographics, long stifled voices pulsing with a new and vibrant energy — such were the cultural seismic shifts of the time which gave rise to this new “in your face” visual creative force known as Abstract Expressionism. Monumental in scale and intended to spur viewer interaction on primal levels, it marked well the climate of the day. And powerful it remains.
‘When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It’s only after a sort of “get acquainted” period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.’ (Jackson Pollock)
— Jules Cavanaugh
*Featured image: Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956): Blue poles (Number 11), 1952. Enamel on canvas, 212.1 x 488.2 cm. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
- Willem de Kooning (American; Abstract Expressionism, New York School; 1904–1997): Woman and Bicycle, 1952-53. Oil, enamel, and charcoal on linen; 76-1/2 x 49-1/8 inches (194.3 x 124.8 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA. © The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society(ARS), New York.
- Helen Frankenthaler (American; Abstract Expressionism, Lyrical Abstraction; 1928 –2011): Nature Abhors a Vacuum, 1973. Acrylic on canvas, 103-1/2 x 112-1/2 inches (262.9 x 285.8 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA. Image: Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. © Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc.
- Jackson Pollock (American, Abstract Expressionism, 1912-1956): Guardians of the Secret, 1943. Oil on canvas, 48-3/8 x 75-3/8 inches (122.89 x 191.47 cm). San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California, USA. © Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
- Robert Motherwell (American, Abstract Expressionism, 1915–1991): Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 171, 1988-90. Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 168-1/8 inches. Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas, USA. © Dedalus Foundation, Inc./Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.
- Richard Pousette-Dart (American, Abstract Expressionist, 1916–1992): The Fountain, 1960. Oil on canvas, 192 x 142 cm. © The Estate of Richard Pousette-Dart.
- Clyfford Still (American, Abstract Expressionism, 1904-1980): Untitled, 1964. Oil on canvas. © Clyfford Still.
- Franz Kline (American; Modernism, Abstract Expressionism; 1910-1962): Untitled, 1957. Oil on canvas, 79 x 110-3/8 inches (200.7 x 280.4 cm). Private Collection. © The Franz Kline Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. This artwork may be protected by copyright.
- Mark Rothko (American, born Russia—now Latvia; 1903-1970): Untitled, 1950. Oil on canvas. © Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko.
- Joan Mitchell (American, 1926-1992): Bracket, 1989. Oil on canvas (triptych), 102-1/2 x 181-3/4 inches (260.35 x 461.35 cm). The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. © Estate of Joan Mitchell. Photo: Ian Reeves.
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