CURATED BY CHRISTINA M. STRASSFIELD
CURATED BYSUPPORTING SPONSORS: HAMPTONS FINE ART FAIR,
MANES PEACE PRIZE FOUNDATION
MEDIA SPONSER: DAN’S PAPERS
OPENING RECEPTION SPONSER: WLIW-FM
The Abstract Expressionist movement is best known for its male superstars, but women were also pioneers of the genre. This exhibition showcases the work of artists such as Lee Krasner, Elaine DeKooning, Perle Fine, Joan Mitchell, and others—women whose artwork finds long overdue acclaim and new appreciation with a contemporary audience. We are also celebrating women whose work, while not abstract, is associated with the Abstract Expressionist era and are individuals who were part of the New York art scene, such as Mercedes Matter, Hedda Sterne, Jane Freilicher and Jane Wilson.
This exhibition features works that are both visually mesmerizing and technically complex. It offers the widest breadth of any private assemblage of this genre, featuring the works of 32 women artists. The artwork on display demonstrates the various ways these artists were pushing themselves in new directions as leaders and full participants in the Abstract Expressionism movement.
Abstract Expressionism was the first specifically American style to achieve international influence, and, as a result, 1940s New York replaced Paris as the center of the art world. The style was characterized by experimental, gestural, and nonrepresentational painting. For some of the artists associated with the movement, abstract art and blurring the lines between representational and abstraction was a means of expressing ideas concerning nature, the spiritual, and the mind. For others, it was a way to explore formal and technical concerns.
From 1947 to 1951, several Abstract Expressionists, among them Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Hans Hofmann, and Mark Rothko, developed their signature painting styles. During the following years, these artists, informally called the First Generation of the New York School, received growing recognition nationally and globally. Several groundbreaking women artists from this same period are featured in this exhibition, including Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Hedda Sterne, Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan, and Joan Mitchell. Heroines of the Abstract Expressionist Era also includes works by painters such as Perle Fine, Mary Abbott, Dorothy Dehner, Audrey Flack, and Michael (Corinne) West and sculptors Louise Nevelson and Louise Bourgeois.
For more than sixty years, the contributions these women made to the movement were all but forgotten while works by men such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning have been canonized in the history of American art. It has taken the dedication of scholars and curators—and the commitment of a handful of visionary collectors like Rick Friedman and Cindy Lou Wakefield—to restore these women artists to their rightful place in the history of American art.