The Week in Abstract Art – Notable Gestures
Jun 22, 2016
Who doesn’t love a good gesture? We love to stare at a Franz Kline painting and think about the profound, yet simple gestures that made those dramatic black marks on that subdued white background. And when someone buys us a gift that doesn’t quite live up to our desires we say, “Well, at least they made the gesture.” Last week the story broke about one of the grandest gestures made in the art world for some time. The Smithsonian Institute, one of America’s most renowned and beloved collectors of art, will, for the first time in its 170 years of existence, open a permanent exhibition space outside the US. The new space will be in London, and will be managed in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum. To celebrate this momentous gesture, this week we bring you five exhibitions of artists whose gestures are equally worthy of acclaim.
Somewhere in the space between abstraction and figuration, the artist Stuart Davis created a truly American style. His vivid, colorful paintings contain all the spirit and gestural emotion of the best Abstract Expressionist works, but their graphic, urban-jazz-inspired forms set them in their own aesthetic space. Davis was a founding member of the Whitney Studio Club, an artist space that opened in 1918 at 147 West 4th Street in New York and contained a reference library and a billiards table. Today that organization is better known as the Whitney Museum of American Art, and they’re currently hosting a major retrospective of about 100 of Davis’ works, on view through 25 September 2016.
You still have a couple of days to see the subtle gestural works of the Argentine artist Guillermo Kuitca at Hauser & Wirth Gallery in London. In the spirit of artists like Stuart Davis, Kuitca also fluctuates between figuration and abstraction. Kuitca’s works are dark and intimate. His gestures are often minute and painterly. They accumulate in their emotional weight the more you admire them until they’re almost vibrating, building swarm-like toward form. His work is on view till 30 June 2016 at 23 Savile Road in London.
On 10 June an exhibition of new work by Katharina Grosse opened at the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden, Germany. Grosse’s gestures, both physically and conceptually, are monumental in nature. Her works often overwhelm, engulfing surfaces and physical spaces that seem unable to contain them. Whether painted on a flat surface of filling an installation, her work contains as many dimensions as a viewer’s brain can perceive. This exhibition is on view through 9 October 2016, with an artist talk to be given (in German) at the museum on 18 August at 7pm.
Through 31 July, the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, NY (an hour north of Manhattan), is showcasing a retrospective of Louise Fishman. The exhibition traces the 50+-year long career of this 77-year old gestural abstract painter from the 1960s through today. The emotional range of Fishman’s oeuvre strives from the irate to the exasperated to the whimsical to the sublime. The Museum is on the campus of Purchase College.
Through 29 July the Petzel Gallery on New York’s Upper East Side presents The Open Hide, the first U.S. solo exhibition of Asger Jorn’s works in 23 years. Jorn’s emotionally vivid, dramatic, painterly canvases scream to life with a tempestuous mix of primal and childlike gestures. Often associated with CoBrA, Jorn was a master of conveying intensity, sensuality, comedy and pain.
Featured Image: Louise Fishman - Ristretto, 2013, Oil on linen