This exhibition explores the important transition that occurred in abstract painting fifty years ago. The show focuses on a group of interrelated artists, in the New York art world of the 1950s. Artists included are: Richard Anuszkeiwicz, Darby Bannard, Ronald Bladen, Norman Bluhm, Al Held, Gene Davis, Friedel Dzubas, Helen Frankenthaler, and Frank Stella. The exhibition chronicles the reaction against Abstract Expressionism by juxtaposing two paintings: a painting of the mid-fifties paired with another dating from circa 1959. As Roni Feinstein writes in the catalogue text:
Abstract Expressionism was an art of high moral purpose largely conceived in response to the horrors of World War II; impulsive or pronounced paintwork was used to express agitated states of mind and being and/or reveal aspects of the human condition. By the late fifties, American society was enjoying a period of relative peace and enhanced prosperity, and increasing numbers of artists began to revolt against Abstract Expressionism, which now seemed irrelevant, outmoded and far too widespread. Many artists moved in the direction of a more dispassionate art characterized by precision and clarity, reflecting the cooler sensibilities of the time.
This new, anti-expressionist avant-garde emerges circa 1959. The nine abstract painters in this exhibition pave the way for Color Field painting, Hard Edge abstraction, Minimalism and Op art.
The illustrated catalogue includes the poem Nineteen Fifty-Nine by Michael Fried.