By Lee Parsons in Canada:
Exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario
8 August 2011
Abstract Expressionist New York: Masterpieces from the Museum of Modern Art, May 28 to September 4, 2011; Painting on Paper: The Drawings of Robert Motherwell, June 25 to December 11, 2011, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
With 111 paintings, sculpture, drawing, prints and photographs, Abstract Expressionist New York: Masterpieces from the Museum of Modern Art, at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), contains only a small portion of the collection held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Nonetheless the exhibition faithfully conveys a sense of what is known as the “New York School,” a significant post-World War II artistic movement.
Alongside the show of material from the Modern, the AGO has put together from its own collection an exhibition of drawings and paintings on paper by a key figure in Abstract Expressionism, Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), an artist who wrote and spoke extensively on the school’s theory and practice.
In addition to Motherwell, some of the more prominently represented artists include Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Lee Krasner, Arshile Gorky, Franz Kline and Louise Bourgeois.
Abstract Expression as a school of painting distinguished by its large-scale, nonrepresentational imagery may defy easy interpretation, but a consideration of its social and intellectual origins, partially provided by explanatory panels throughout the current exhibit, offers some important insight.
One returns again and again to the postwar period, in an effort to sift through and sort out the artistic developments, trends and moods, many of which continue to have an influence down to our day. For the American artist in particular, social reality presented itself as an extremely contradictory phenomenon. The ‘war for democracy’ and against fascism was over, the US and its allies having triumphed. Economic life revived, and living standards would rise.
Jackson Pollock And Family American Letters 1927-1947: here.
In conjunction with its recently-opened Art of the Americas Wing, the Museum has published its first online catalogue Paintings of the Americas. The catalogue covers around 425 paintings from American artists including women, indigenous artists, artists of color, Latin American artists, and self-taught artists. This is only the beginning, however. The catalogue will be expanded regularly with more objects and additional scholarship: here.