Royal Academy | Ends 2nd January 2017 | £16.00
Some genres of art are contemplated through years of reverence steeped in traditional practices. Others explode onto the scene with little resemblance to what has come before it. Abstract Expressionism certainly falls into the latter category...
The Rock n Roll of the Art world is here in all it's glory with the key figures of the movement featured in abundance.
Many consider Jackson Pollock to be the most significant artist to first acquaint the mainstream public with Abstract Expressionism. Fore it was his breakthrough piece, titled Mural, 1943, commissioned by Peggy Guggenheim for the hallway of her Manhattan townhouse that first gained major attention. Mural is Pollock's largest piece and announced a new energy and scale in abstract expressionism.
A triumphant moment of the exhibition comes when Mural features directly opposite Blue Poles, 1952... To be able to survey a decade of the artist's development within the 100 meters that separates them is truly inspiring. From the origins of the Manhattan hallway to the iconic experimentation of oil, enamel and aluminium with glass. Blue Poles is noticeably thicker in the layering of paints and has a more chaotic, fluid sensation to it.
>> Mural, 1943 by Jackson Pollock
>> Blue Poles, 1952 by Jackson Pollock
Pollock's wife, Lee Krasner, also features, on merit as opposed to association. One inclusion of significance is 'The Eye is the First Circle', 1960, which Krasner completed after Pollock's death in 1957. Traumatised by his sudden death in a car crash near his studio it took Krasner almost 3 years before she was able to deliver such a poignant piece. Measuring no less than 16 feet long the bounding rhythms certainly demand your attention. It feels quite humbling to have a painting of such significance aside from the artist who inspired it in Pollock.
>> The Eye is the First Circle', 1960 by Lee Krasner
Another memorable part of the show can be found at the heart of the gallery; a room dedicated to Mark Rothko. It is quite an experience to be surrounded by 7 large Rothko pieces with their feathery edges pulsating, as if inviting you to step inside a portal. Featuring his trademark tiers of hovering rectangles, described as mood pieces, they certainly bring a calm aesthetic to the exhibition and a reason to pause.
The Royal Academy provides many high points in this focus on Abstract Expressionism bringing together some true giants of the genre. It also suceeds in showing us just how diverse the genre actually is. Louise Nevelson offers variety in her sculptural take on the art form with her monochromatic wooden wall sculpture 'Sky Cathedral - Moon Gardens', 1957-60. The versatility of Nevelson's wall sculptures capture their audience as shadows cast naturally can be read as tonal variations of the monochrome palette she employs.
There is much more to celebrate including the work of Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Clyfford Still that this is quite simply a show not to miss.
<< The Unattainable, 1945 by Arshile Gorky >> Pink Angels, 1945 by Willem de Kooning
<< Franz Kline >> Clyfford Still