The exhibition begins with the 1940s and extends into the 21st century and explores large-scale abstract painting, sculpture, and assemblage through more than 50 works from The Met collection and includes a selection of loans, promised gifts and new acquisitions. Iconic works from The Met collection, such as Jackson Pollock's classic "drip" painting and Louise Nevelson's monumental Mrs. N's Palace highlight works by international artists, such as, Japanese painter Kazuo Shiraga and the Hungarian artist IIona Keseru.
Image: Jackson Pollock (American 1912-1956) Enamel on Canvas 1950, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection. Gift of Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman, in honor of her grandchildren, Ellen Steinberg, Coven and Dr. Peter Steinberg 2006. Artists Rights Society (ARS) 2018 New York.
In the 1940s Pollock developed the "drip" technique for which he became renowned and his work grew to monumental sizes; he eventually discarded the easel to paint on and around unstretched canvases splayed on the studio floor. The drips, splatters, and whips of paint record his bodily experience in the process of painting, but they also evince a high degree of control and intentional effects. Abstract Expressionism was promoted as exemplary of American democracy and freedom during the early years of the Cold War, and Pollock's art began exerting an international influence in this context. He reinvented the medium of painting as experimental, a kind of performance. Well over fifty years after their creation these works retain their audacious dynamism and sense of daring.
THE ARTISTS REACT: In the wake of unprecedented destruction and loss of life during World War II, many painters and sculptors working in the 1940s grew to believe that traditional easel painting and figurative no longer adequately conveyed the human condition. In this context numerous artists, including Barnett Newman, Pollock and others associated with the so called New York School, were convinced that abstract styles---often on large scale---most meaningfully evoked contemporary states of being. Many of the artists represented in Epic Abstraction worked in large in large formats not only to explore aesthetic elements of line, color, shape and texture but also to activate scale's potential to evoke expansive---'epic' ideas and subjects, including time, history, nature, the body, and existential concerns of the self.
CONCERT PROGRAM: In conjunction with the exhibition, a concert in the MetLiveArts Sight and Sound series, "Abstraction in Music and Art" will feature Leon Botstein and The Orchestra Now performing works by the radical modernist Anton Webern and experimental composer Morton Feldman, who mirrored the Abstract Expressionist painters and took his inspiration from their work. Performance on May 19, 2019, at 2 p.m. in The Met Fifth Avenue Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, will be preceded by a discussion accompanied by musical excerpts performed alongside on-screen artworks. Tickets start at $30. Bring Kids for $1 are also available. Info: (metmuseum.org/sightandsound).
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