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Masters of the Gesture

October 2–November 6, 2010
Beverly Hills

Installation view Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

Installation view

Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

Installation view Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

Installation view

Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

Installation view Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

Installation view

Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

Installation view Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

Installation view

Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

Installation video Play Button

Installation video

Works Exhibited

John Chamberlain, Dee Dee Bitch, 1976 Automobile metal relief, 51 × 37 × 19 inches (129.5 × 94 × 48.3 cm)© Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

John Chamberlain, Dee Dee Bitch, 1976

Automobile metal relief, 51 × 37 × 19 inches (129.5 × 94 × 48.3 cm)
© Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Willem de Kooning, Untitled XXIV, 1977 Oil on canvas, 70 × 80 inches (177.8 × 203.2 cm)© 2010 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

Willem de Kooning, Untitled XXIV, 1977

Oil on canvas, 70 × 80 inches (177.8 × 203.2 cm)
© 2010 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

Sam Francis, Red over Gray, 1953 Oil on canvas, 76 × 38 inches (193 × 96.5 cm)

Sam Francis, Red over Gray, 1953

Oil on canvas, 76 × 38 inches (193 × 96.5 cm)

Adolph Gottlieb, “ANTIPODES” (Opposite Ends), 1959 Oil on canvas, 90 × 72 inches (228.6 × 182.9 cm)Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

Adolph Gottlieb, ANTIPODES” (Opposite Ends), 1959

Oil on canvas, 90 × 72 inches (228.6 × 182.9 cm)
Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

Franz Kline, Laureline, 1956 Oil on canvas, 57 × 81 inches (145 × 206 cm)

Franz Kline, Laureline, 1956

Oil on canvas, 57 × 81 inches (145 × 206 cm)

Joan Mitchell, Maple leave forever, 1968 Oil on canvas, 98 ¾ × 58 inches (251 × 147.3 cm)Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

Joan Mitchell, Maple leave forever, 1968

Oil on canvas, 98 ¾ × 58 inches (251 × 147.3 cm)
Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

David Smith, Voltri XVII, 1962 Steel, 95 × 31 ½ × 30 ¾ inches (241.3 × 80 × 78.1 cm)

David Smith, Voltri XVII, 1962

Steel, 95 × 31 ½ × 30 ¾ inches (241.3 × 80 × 78.1 cm)

Clyfford Still, 1955-d, Ph-387, 1955 Oil on canvas, 117 ½ × 111 inches (298.4 × 281.9 cm)

Clyfford Still, 1955-d, Ph-387, 1955

Oil on canvas, 117 ½ × 111 inches (298.4 × 281.9 cm)

About

These are not paintings in the usual sense; they are life and death merging in fearful union.

The painting is just a surface to be covered. . . . My paintings have to do with feeling, yet it’s pretentious to say they’re about feelings, too, because if you don’t get it across, it’s nothing.
—Joan Mitchell

Works in the exhibition explore the range of direct, individualized gestures and dominating physicality that became the distinguishing characteristics of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Critically championed by Clement Greenberg, by the early 1950s Abstract Expressionist art was firmly established as the dominant movement in American art of the post–World War II era, marking the emergence as an equal counterpart in the United States to the new tendencies in modern European painting.

Influenced by their experiences during the interwar years that were marked by the detrimental effects of the Great Depression and World War II, the New York–based Abstract Expressionists viewed the world as emotionally barren and militated against political and social hegemony. This preoccupation with the human condition and the metaphysical became absorbed in their aim to build a new visual language, predicated on the immediacy of abstract forms, the monumental canvas, and the primacy of color. The many permutations of these principles can be seen in a work like Sam Francis’s meditative Red Over Gray (1953). From 1957, Adolph Gottlieb simplified his iconic pictographic canvas in later works to make way for the “bursts” in Antipodes (1959), where luminous circular forms levitate above gestural eruptions, evoking a primitive, even cataclysmic, view of life.