Ocean Greyness, 1953
Oil on canvas
146.7 x 229 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
© 2012 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
June 8–September 12, 2012
Source: Guggenheim Museum
In the 1950s, many countries ended their postwar isolationism and entered a phase of cultural openness and internationalism. The prominent French art critic Michel Tapié declared the existence of un art autre (art of another kind), a term embracing a mosaic of styles, but essentially signifying an avant-garde art that rejected a connection with any tradition or past idiom. With works by Appel, Bourgeois, Burri, Chillida, Fontana, Hartigan, Jorn, Klein, de Kooning, Mathieu, Noguchi, Okada, Pollock, Soulages, Tàpies, Vieira da Silva, Yamaguchi, and Wou-Ki, among others, the exhibition considers the artistic developments of the post–World War II period and draws greater attention to lesser-known artists in the museum’s collection alongside those long since canonized.
Abstract Expressionism encompasses a diverse range of postwar American painting that challenged the tradition of vertical easel painting. Beginning in the late 1940s, Pollock placed his canvases on the floor to pour, drip, and splatter paint onto them. This gestural act, with variations practiced by William Baziotes, De Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, and others, was termed “Action painting” by American critic Harold Rosenberg, who considered it a product of the artist’s unconscious outpouring or the enactment of some personal drama.
The postwar European avant-garde in many ways paralleled the expressive tendencies and untraditional methods of their transatlantic counterparts, though their cultural contexts differed. For artists in Spain, abstract art signified political liberation. Dissenting Italian artists correspondingly turned to abstraction against the renewed popularity of politicized realism. French artist Jean Dubuffet’s spontaneous approach, Art Brut (Raw art), retained figurative elements but radically opposed official culture, instead favoring the spontaneous and direct works of untrained individuals. His work influenced the Cobra group (1948–51), which was founded by Appel, Jorn, and other artists from Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam.
Art of Another Kind is accompanied by a fully illustrated, 200-page catalogue that includes essays by Bashkoff, Fontanella, and Joan Marter.