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A review of the lighthouses' exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
2016-10-10 23:08:59 I am not talking about these two exhibitions - this one
"Confronting The Canvas: Women Of Abstraction" in Boston or this groundbreaking exhibition "Women of Abstract Expressionism", which both ended in September. Instead, I'm writing a little walkthrough of the current exhibition in the Royal Academy of Arts in London "Abstract Expressionism".

As you might know, the RA upper floor exhibition halls are organised in three hallways with each 5 halls. In the first row the middle is the stair's landing and the entrance to the exhibition first two halls on the left and the RA store on the right.
The first room shows the very early works from the "group" of artists, self-portraits and other figurative artworks, some abstracts in sense of cubism, the sculpture "Letter" from David Smith and Barnett Newmans "Galaxy".
The second room dedicates itself to the first abstract works, mainly works of Arshile Gorky.

In the first central hallway you can see in the first two halls works from Jackson Pollock, the center Octagon is devoted to Mark Rothko, next there is Clifford Still and finally the exhibition ends with sketches and sculptures of David Smith again.
The second hallway in the third row starts with a small room with art from Sam Francis and other artists. The next hall gives itself over to Franz Kline and the early Motherwell, in the center the women of Wilhelm de Kooning are shown but also his later abstract landscapes. You see the connection and bandwidth between de Kooning and Rothko physically.
In the very next room, the fourth hall of the second way, is dedicated to Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhard. The two most minimal, concrete painters of the sublime. Furthermore it shows a beautiful sculpture of Barnett Newman alongside to one of David Smith. Have I mentioned that you can find in any room one or two sculptures of David Smith? No?! Well, the very next room, the last in this row, is dominated by a large later Rober Motherwell. A late Rothko and other grey, dark paintings by assorted male painters and a very fine small work of Lee Krasner. Finally as a surprise a large black sculpture, not by D.Smith, is there made by Louise Nevelson.

Lee Krasner, The Eye is the First Circle, 1960. Oil on canvas. 235.6 x 487.4 cm. Courtesy Robert Miller Gallery, New York. © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2016 Photo Private collection, courtesy Robert Miller Gallery, New York.
Lee Krasner,
The Eye is the First Circle, 1960.
Oil on canvas. 235.6 x 487.4 cm. Courtesy Robert Miller Gallery, New York. © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2016 Photo Private collection, courtesy Robert Miller Gallery, New York.

On the first impression the exhibition feels like 'the work of David Smith annotated with pictures of his colleges', especially because all sculptures in the inner courtyard are made by him, too. Though this exhibition is dominated by what is rarely seen here. The paintings of the female artists. Like this awesome artwork of Lee Krasner, J.Pollocks wife, which is placed in the entry room of the first hallway at the head end, where it dominates the whole five rooms.
The second hallway starts with a work of Joan Mitchell and one of Helen Frankentaler on the similar wall. Plus it contains the one work which inspired almost everyone from Janet Sobel. "Illusion of Solidity", a key stone piece. Except for Barnett Newman, the "father figure" of the movement and the grandfather of the minimalists, so to say.

You find a very unique and exclusive collection of abstract art in this fine exhibition and you may never see them together again in Europe. All artists are exploring the narrative space.
D.Smith's "Letter" is like love letter. Though his works appear astonishing flat. His sculptures do explore the pictorial space instead? All key pieces have been made by female artist.

You can not watch the boy without the girls.

It is not a wonder. The whole exhibition ends with a large breathtaking late 4-plates work from Joan Mitchel, the only work from the under-represented Hans Hoffman, two awesome abstract landscapes from de Koonings and two other works.
Indeed the male artist had been the lighthouses, but they only marked some of the outer borders from this large continent of abstract expressionism. An American movement, a female movement.

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