Van de Weghe Fine Art is pleased to present an exhibition of Abstract Expressionist works on paper by renowned artists Arshile Gorky, Franz Kline, Jack Tworkov, Sam Francis, Mark Tobey Jean Dubuffet and Yayoi Kusama. The movement came to prominence in the years following World War II and is characterized by its focus on gesture and materiality, and its disregard for pictorial representation. These artists worked both in and outside of AbEx’s New York epicenter, and there is a striking range of technique and pictorial effects which points to the nuances of the movement.
Arshile Gorky (1904-1948) is considered to be the father of Abstract Expressionism and had a profound influence on successive generations of artists. Gorky fled Armenia for New York in 1920. His nostalgia for the landscape and memories of his youth played a central role in his work, which is characterized by abstract passages and bursts of line and color fused with lyrical and surreal forms. Drawing was integral to his process and he made scores of them on regular retreats to his wife’s family’s home, Crooked Run Farm in Virginia, an example of which, Fireplace in Virginia, c.1946, is included in the exhibition.
The work of Franz Kline (1910-1962), Jack Tworkov (1900-1982) and Sam Francis (1923-1994) are quintessential examples of Abstract Expressionism in its purest form, though they worked on opposite sides of the Atlantic: Kline and Tworkov in New York and Francis - though from California originally - in Paris. Kline and Tworkov are both known for the energetic gesture that pervades their work. Kline’s black and white compositions are striking for their immediacy; Untitled, 1959 demonstrates the raw energy that is his signature. Tworkov’s lyrical sensibility is apparent in Untitled (House of the Sun), c. 1952, a composition radiant with flame-like hues. The work of Sam Francis, too, is marked by vigorous mark-making though his focus was on the power of color. Francis was deeply inspired by the palette of Monet, splashing and splattering his compositions with lush hues, allowing the white ground to show through. Untitled, 1955, utilizes layered brushstrokes and translucent color to create a space that is as sensuous as it is vivid.
Other artists approached Abstract Expressionism as a vehicle with which to harness their inner or spiritual selves. Mark Tobey (1890-1976), known as the “Sage of Seattle,” was greatly influenced by Asian calligraphy and Eastern religions, converting to the Baha’i faith, which stresses the equality and unity of mankind. Tobey’s mature work is characterized by what he referred to as “white writing,” delicate calligraphic markings overlaying and animating the surface. He described this as the movement of light - a unifying force. Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) drew inspiration from the work of untrained artists who were often excluded from society and tapped into own primal energies in making his work. Paysage, 1960, is part of a group of works called Matériologies, which focused on media with no intention of objective representation. The concentrated amalgam of dots, dashes and splotches of ink makes a strong impact. Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) was inspired by her own mental illness. She is best known for the dots that fill her paintings, sculptures, performances – infinity nets - which are drawn from the hallucinations that she has experienced for much of her life. Kusama moved to New York in 1957 where she produced a series of Abstract Expressionist inspired paintings. Ground, 1950s-63 is a work densely filled with multicolored dots which vibrate with a sense of movement. Kusama returned to Japan in 1973 where she continues to make work.
The works featured are prime examples of each artist’s oeuvre, and as works on paper, are essential in understanding their relative processes and motivations. The Abstract Expressionist movement can be seen as the starting point for all subsequent Contemporary Art. It was a revolution in pictorial language and its expressive force continues to fascinate. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, from 10:00am to 6:00pm, and by appointment. For further information, please contact Jenn Viola at firstname.lastname@example.org.