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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.

Installation view, Crushed, Cast, Constructed: Sculpture by John Chamberlain, Urs Fischer, and Charles Ray, Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London, June 15–July 31, 2020

Uncanny Delights: Sculpture by John Chamberlain, Urs Fischer, and Charles Ray

Catalyzed by the exhibition Crushed, Cast, Constructed: Sculpture by John Chamberlain, Urs Fischer, and Charles Ray, Alice Godwin examines the legacy and development of a Surrealist ethos in selected works from three contemporary sculptors.

Willem de Kooning seated at Sidney Janis Gallery, 1959. Color photograph

There is Woman in the Landscapes: Willem de Kooning from 1959 to 1963

Lauren Mahony considers a critical four-year period in the painter’s career, examining the technical changes that occurred between his “abstract parkway landscapes” of the late 1950s and the “pastoral landscapes” that succeeded them, as well as the impact on his work of his impending move to Springs, New York.

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

Book Corner
Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

Wyatt Allgeier discusses the 1984 Arion Press edition of John Ashbery’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, featuring prints by Richard Avedon, Alex Katz, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, and more.

Claude Picasso and John Richardson

In Conversation
Claude Picasso and John Richardson

Picasso biographer Sir John Richardson sits down with Claude Picasso to discuss Claude’s photography, his enjoyment of vintage car racing, and the future of scholarship related to his father, Pablo Picasso.

Jenny Saville on Willem de Kooning

Jenny Saville on Willem de Kooning

In 2013, the exhibition Willem de Kooning: Ten Paintings, 1983–1985 explored the legendary artist’s late work. For the catalogue accompanying the presentation, Jenny Saville spoke on the gestures and elemental elegance of these paintings.

Foil Adventures

Foil Adventures

In Foil Adventures: John Chamberlain’s Late Works in Aluminum, Corinna Thierolf discusses how, starting in the mid-1960s, the artist investigated and perfected working with this material.