Abstract Expressionism at Royal Academy of Arts
The abstract world undeniably gets a bad rep; we’ve all heard someone say, “I could do that” as we pass a Gorky or a Pollock. Thankfully, Dr David Anfam and Edith Devaney expertly contextualise Abstract Expressionism in a way that adds depth and richness to the work and reveals the true genius of it’s artists.
First appearing in the US in 1929 , Abstract Expressionism came into its own in the forties, blossoming on the New York scene, a haven for many European artists fleeing the war. As it became the new artistic centre of the world, New York’s refugees began to process their harrowing experiences, becoming a defining voice of the generations who lived through one of history’s darkest eras.
With a focus on the emotional intensity of German Expressionism and an emphasis on spontaneous or “automatic” creation, the movement developed the belief that the process of making something is as important as the result, a theme the exhibition cleverly mimics.
Imbuing these themes within its own curation, the exhibition encourages you to react to the work as an experiential piece, losing your yourself in the vast spaces with the artists Pollock, Rothko, Still, de Kooning, Newman, Kline, Smith, Guston and Gorky. It also juxtaposes beautifully with baroque detailing in the rooms, shirking the traditional “white cube” gallery style.
The artists exhibited are all of varying fame, but each contributed greatly to the Abstract Expressionist movement. What makes this exhibition so special, though, is the depth that it explores the movement in itself and the uniqueness of the collection; many of the paintings have never been exhibited together before.
We see the development of the movement juxtaposed with collaborators, colleagues, and sculptors, all contributing to a holistic idea of what this movement is really about. Fascinatingly, the journey revealed behind each work is fragmented, never forming into a cohesive style, like in Surrealism, but remaining identifiable throughout.
Abstract Expressionism is an exhibition of an entire movement, rather than singular artists, and engages in a bold and considered way. Come for the quality and thoughtfulness of any Royal Academy exhibition, stay for the unique and vast collection – a must see for any art aficionado, as well as abstract skeptics.
Abstract Expressionism is at the Royal Academy of Arts from 24th September 2016 until 2nd January 2017. Book your tickets here.
For more information on Abstract Expressionism visit here.