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Joan Mitchell

Abstract Expressionism (group show)
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
3 February - 4 June 2017

In the “age of anxiety” surrounding the Second World War and the years of free jazz and Beat poetry, artists like Pollock, Rothko, and de Kooning broke from accepted conventions to unleash a new confidence in painting. Abstract Expressionism was born from the common experience of artists living in 1940s New York, although they were friends and colleagues, each of them had their own unique style. Unlike what came before with Cubism and Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism did not appear to follow a set formula. This diversity is a celebration of the individual artists’ freedom to express themselves.

Abstract Expressionism meant a watershed moment in the evolution of 20th-century art, yet, remarkably, there has been no major survey in Europe of the movement since 1959. With over 130 paintings, sculptures, and photographs from public and private collections across the world, this ambitious exhibition encompasses masterpieces by the most acclaimed American artists associated with the movement–among them, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Phillip Guston, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Aaron Siskind, David Smith, and Clyfford Still, as well as lesser-known but no less vital artists.

The selection aims to re-evaluate Abstract Expressionism, recognizing that though the subject is often perceived to be unified, in reality it was a highly complex, fluid, and many-sided phenomenon. Likewise, it revises the notion of Abstract Expressionism as based solely in New York City by addressing such figures on the West Coast as Sam Francis, Mark Tobey and Minor White.

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao


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Joan Mitchell

Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction (group show)
Museum of Modern Art, New York
15 April - 13 August 2017

Making Space shines a spotlight on the stunning achievements of women artists between the end of World War II (1945) and the start of the Feminist movement (around 1968). In the postwar era, societal shifts made it possible for larger numbers of women to work professionally as artists, yet their work was often dismissed in the male dominated art world, and few support networks existed for them. Abstraction dominated artistic practice during these years, as many artists working in the aftermath of World War II sought an international language that might transcend national and regional narratives—and for women artists, additionally, those relating to gender.

Drawn entirely from the Museum’s collection, the exhibition features nearly 100 paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, prints, textiles, and ceramics by more than 50 artists. Within a trajectory that is at once loosely chronological and synchronous, it includes works that range from the boldly gestural canvases of Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, and Joan Mitchell; the radical geometries by Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, and Gego; and the reductive abstractions of Agnes Martin, Anne Truitt, and Jo Baer; to the fiber weavings of Magdalena Abakanowicz, Sheila Hicks, and Lenore Tawney; and the process-oriented sculptures of Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, and Eva Hesse. The exhibition will also feature many little-known treasures such as collages by Anne Ryan, photographs by Gertrudes Altschul, and recent acquisitions on view for the first time at MoMA by Ruth Asawa, Carol Rama, and Alma Woodsey Thomas.

Museum of Modern Art, New York