American Abstract Expressionists and Imagists

By Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

The exhibition AMERICAN ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISTS AND IMAGISTS 1961 inaugurates at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum a new program for the investigation of current tendencies in American and European painting and sculpture. To open the series, it has seemed appropriate to re-examine the present state of the movement which has dominated American painting since the end of World War II, to which the names Abstract Expressionism or Action Painting are normally applied. Most of the paintings date from 1960 or 1961 and have not previously been exhibited. Included are major recent works by de Kooning, Baziotes, Kline, Guston, Gottlieb, Hofmann, Motherwell, and most of the other artists who are regarded as pioneers of Abstract Expressionism. A small background section includes important paintings by Jackson Pollock, Gorky, and Tomlin, pioneers no longer living, as well as earlier works by Barnett Newman, Still, and Matta.

The exhibition also includes a highly selective sampling of younger artists associated with Abstract Expressionism, such as Norman Bluhm, Sam Francis, Joan, Mitchell, and Grace Hartigan. The number of younger painters who have during the last ten years practiced some form of Abstract Expressionism is so vast that this section could only be the briefest summary indication of the variety and vitality of the continuing movement.

This is, nevertheless, perhaps the most comprehensive survey of Abstract Expressionist painting ever to be held by a New York museum. It demonstrates the inadequacy of the terms "Abstract Expressionism" and "Action Painting" as applied to artists as diverse as Pollock, Tomlin, Newman, or Motherwell. Whereas the works of Pollock, de Kooning, Kline, Tworkov, and many of the younger painters have the assertion, of the brush stroke, the sense of immediacy, of the act of painting which makes these labels more or less applicable, the impact of Rothko, Newman, or Tomlin is entirely different.

The sense of classic order, frequently suggestive of the continuing influence of Cubism, is most evident in works of Tomlin and Marca-Relli. Elements of what has been described as "Abstract Impressionism" may appear in the textures of Guston, Resnick, and Vicente-although the intents of these artists are quite different from those of the Impressionists.

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American Abstract Expressionists and Imagists
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Trustees 5
  • Lenders to the Exhibition 7
  • Acknowledgments 9
  • Foreword - On Art and Terminology 12
  • Introduction 23
  • Exhibition 33
  • Catalogue of the Exhibition and Biographies 85
  • Bibliography 97
  • Staff *
  • Photographic Credits *
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