Journey in the Abstract

This was my third trip to New York since the MoMA launched the Abstract Expressionists New York exhibit.    I had run out of time on my previous two trips, but was able to get there this time.  (And, horribly, it has closed so I feel terrible about going on and on.  But I’m going to anyway.)

I dig ’em.  The Abstract Expressionists, I mean.

Big and graphic and bold, they jazz me right up.  It was terrific to see all of these paintings together.  I forget, so accustomed to their images, so familiar with their forms, how shockingly foreign they were at their debut.  Forget that contemporary eyes might have gazed upon them and thought, “What the heck?” Puzzled, as Bert Cooper’s employees were with his Rothko.

Gottlieb’s Man Looking at Woman gave me pause.  I occurred to me that it would be logical for the eye to be drawn to that orange smudge in the middle of all that black and white, but my initial focus, and where my eye was stuck, was on the figures.  She seems amused.

Willem de Kooning Woman 1.  Really, we’re not all that bad.

I was there Good Friday and the museum was packed.  A swarming museum is an idea that delights, but a reality that detracts.  There were people moving everywhere, looking and talking and listening to audio tours.  But people were visiting Pollack like a rock star.

One, Number 31 was magnetic.  Its presence in the next room made it hard to concentrate on the works at hand.  Pollock seduces.  I stood here for ten minutes at least and this painting could not have lent itself to picture takers any more than a life-sized cut out of William and Kate.

But art is a singular experience and as I pondered Shimmering Substance I thought, “That is exactly the impression I’d like my house to make.”
Images from top, Jasper Johns Flag, Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup Cans and Mark Rothko Number 1. Shimmering Substance is Pollack as well.
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9 thoughts on “Journey in the Abstract

  1. Reggie is embarrassed to admit he wasn't aware of this show, and chagrined that it has closed without even his knowing about it. Seeing these photographs I would have been sure to visit it. Thanks for the tour.

  2. Hi Patricia, Yes, I want my house to look like that, also. Full of light, joy, positive energy, happy boys, great friends and conversations and passion. Yes, I see all of that in those amazing drips. thanks. Mary

  3. A great exhibit Patricia, and I agree regarding Pollock's Shimering Substance.

    Maybe because of Spring and my yearning for yellows.

    Art by Karena

  4. The Abstract Expressionists made me rethink 20th century art. re: de Kooning, yes I know what you mean, dude get over it. But have you ever stood in front of a Rothko and felt yourself being sucked in by the emotion of the piece? I think it has something to do with the scale, but not entirely. I'm sorry I missed this show, but the SF Moma has a good AE room, fairly representational. Thank you for this post.

  5. boops. Yes, I just did. That is exactly how I felt. And you are right about the size, because there are very classic pieces at the Nelson that are that size and larger (we have Abstract Expressionism, too – so as not to mislead) that do not strike me as powerfully. The all of it was just remarkable.

  6. Does it really get any better than American Abstract Expressionism?
    I am jealous … would love to have been to MOMA to see this show!

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