03 Sep

Exhibition Examines Origins of Abstract Expressionism Featured

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“The Roots of Abstraction” Opens September 3 at Housatonic Museum of Art

Housatonic Museum of Art (HMA) is pleased to present its newest show, “The Roots of Abstraction.” The exhibition, scheduled to be on view from September 3, 2020 through August 31, 2021, will feature a selection of paintings and sculpture by famed modernist artists who were active in New York City in the early 1940s, and were engaged with the political and artistic debates of the day. The Roots of Abstraction contextualizes a world-altering time when New York became the center of contemporary art.

“The exhibition includes works by William Baziotes, Romare Bearden, Jimmy Ernst, Herbert Ferber, Richard Hunt, Seymour Lipton, Alfonso Ossorio, Theodoros Stamos, Willem de Kooning, Conrad Marca-Relli and Hale Woodruff,” said Robbin Zella, HMA Director. “These giants of the abstract expressionism movement battled the establishment and captured the attention of the entire mid-century art world. Theirs was the fertile ground upon which twentieth-century American art took root.”

Emerging in a postwar period marked by political conservatism, anxiety, trauma and poverty, the term “Abstract Expressionism,” which was coined by the New Yorker critic, Robert Coates, and popularized in the early 1950s, encompassed not only the color field paintings of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, but also the action painters Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, whose inimitable, gestural mark making assaulted the staid sensibilities of the art world.

Forging a third path between the pure abstraction and surrealist automatism of the European avant-garde, Abstract Expressionists sought to reinvent Modernism after the Second World War, shifting the fine art capital from Picasso’s Paris to the gritty Greenwich Village art scene of New York City. Their “irascible” energy effected a seismic generational shift in American Modernism, liberating the first generation of Abstract Expressionists from the mind-numbing conformity and rampant consumerism of the postwar landscape.

An appointment to visit the museum will be necessary, and visitors must be prepared to comply with social distancing rules and wear protective face masks. Housatonic Museum of Art will also make the exhibition available as a slideshow, virtual tour and as a print-on-demand catalog with essay by Sarah Churchill, Adjunct Instructor of Art History at Housatonic Community College.

For further information about this and other exhibits visit www.HousatonicMuseum.org and to plan a visit, please call 203-332-5052.

Caption For Photo Above: Theodoros Stamos, The Ship of Odysseus. Oil on Masonite.


Hale Woodruff, Two Figures Abstraction, 1958. Oil on canvas.

Caption For Photo Right: Hale Woodruff, Two Figures Abstraction, 1958. Oil on canvas.


Jimmy Ernst, Untitled, 1958. Oil on canvas.

Caption For Photo Right: Jimmy Ernst, Untitled, 1958. Oil on canvas.


Conrad Marca-Relli, Ville Neuve, 1982. Lithograph on cream wove paper.

Caption For Photo Right: Conrad Marca-Relli, Ville Neuve, 1982. Lithograph on cream wove paper.

Read 82 times Last modified on Tuesday, 08 September 2020 13:47