The Week in Abstract Art – The Feminine Gesture
Nov 24, 2016
Abstract art can be an excellent intermediary between people and their preconceived notions. By inviting us into a space of contemplation, it gives us a chance to address the eternal what, as in, “What is this?” “What are we?” “What are the possibilities?” Earlier this week we published an article examining ten famous abstract images of women. We hoped to highlight various different aesthetic propositions, and also we hoped the article would help us gain perspective on an important what, namely, “What do these paintings communicate about femininity and gender expectations in our culture?” We live in a time when gender and sexuality are often hyper-simplified and used to create divisive generalizations. We think abstract art is one way we can remind ourselves of how complex humans are, and how unproductive it is to marginalize each other. Continuing in that vein, we want to consider another aspect of femininity in art: the feminine gesture. Each of the five current abstract art exhibitions we bring you this week features the work of a female artist. Each inhabits a distinctly unique aesthetic position. Considered together, perhaps they can help enlighten us about what it means for an artistic gesture to be feminine and, what, if anything, abstract art made by women can help us understand about the universal realities related to gender.
Carol Bove Polka Dots, at David Zwirner, New York
On view through 17 December 2016
This exhibition of new assemblages by Carol Bove presents a seemingly impossible proposition, as though ethereal, almost whimsical aesthetic gestures have manifested into massive, steel forms. The mixture of brutality, confidence and grace communicated by these sculptures sets them outside of time, transforming their environment into an encampment of the sublime.
Carol Bove - Polka Dots, at David Zwirner, New York, installation view #2, photo credits of David Zwirner
Rosemarie Castoro Interference / Infinity, at Broadway 1602, NY
On view now through 23 December 2016
This varied and complex arrangement of conceptual paintings, drawings and sculptures of Rosemarie Castoro reads almost like a visual diary. The various elements of her oeuvre at first seem like idiosyncratic, almost disjointed statements, but when encountered together they offer an understated, yet unmistakable aesthetic narrative.
Rosemarie Castoro - Interference - Infinity, Broadway, Harlem, installation view, photo credits of Broadway 1602
Laura Owens, at Sadie Coles HQ, London
On view through 16 December 2016
The diverse painting oeuvre of Laura Owens transcends any simple description, as each of her paintings asserts its singularity as an individual whole. Yet her work contains an overarching exploration of the ways aesthetic appropriation intermingles with inventiveness in the contemporary mind. Her paintings are unmistakably her paintings, yet it seems impossible to describe exactly why.
Laura Owens - Sadie Coles HQ, London, installation view, photo credits of Sadie Coles
Joan Mitchell: Drawing into Painting, at Cheim & Read, New York
On view now through 23 December 2016
This exhibition offers an extensive look at paintings on canvas and paper by the second generation Abstract Expressionist Joan Mitchell. The works, created between 1958 and 1992, reference a vast range of her influences, including her time spent in Europe, offering an opportunity to contemplate the strength of her individual voice across time and place.
Joan Mitchell: Drawing into Painting, at Cheim and Read, New York, installation view, photo credits of Cheim and Read
Pat Steir, at Dominique Lévy, London
On view now through 28 January 2017
Featuring a selection of canvases created by Pat Levy between the years of 1990 and 2011, this exhibition focuses primarily on her Waterfall paintings. Created using a meditative, deliberate, repetitive gestural process, these paintings examine the literal and conceptual ramifications of line, color and medium specificity.
Pat Steir at Dominique Levy, London, installation view, photo credits of Dominique Levy
Featured image: Carol Bove - Polka Dots, at David Zwirner, New York, installation view #1, photo credits of David Zwirner
By Phillip Barcio