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Processing Abstraction

Processing Abstraction

Fralin Museum of Art | Hedda Sterne

Through December 31, 2023

Pour, drip, splash, stain, spray, soak, splatter—these words are often used to describe abstract artists’ experimental application of paint. The creative process of many abstract painters is highly visible in their finished artworks. Vigorous brushstrokes, saturated canvases, and atmospheric surfaces all demonstrate the expansive use of the medium. For over 100 years, abstraction has reigned as a major expressive form in painting with continuously changing techniques and styles. Abstract paintings are frequently interpreted according to their visual components, but their socio-political contexts are also vital for understanding.


This exhibition features large-scale abstract paintings from the museum’s collection spanning the mid-1950s to the late 2000s by Gene Davis, Sam Francis, Sam Gilliam, Sheila Isham, Suzanne McClelland, Joan Mitchell, Larry Poons, and Hedda Sterne. While not unified through a particular artistic movement or chronology, each artwork demonstrates the vast potential of paint.

Heroines of the Abstract Expressionist Era

Heroines of the Abstract Expressionist Era

The Southampton Arts Center | Hedda Sterne

October 7 – December 17, 2023

The exhibition will bring together works from the renowned collections of Rick Friedman and Cindy Lou Wakefield. The exhibition promises to be a celebration of women and their place in art history. Explore their masterful compositions and discover the stories behind each brushstroke, as these talented artists take you on a journey through their artistic universe.

geometric abstract painting

Women and Abstraction: 1741–Now

Addison Gallery of American Art | Jackie Saccoccio & Hedda Sterne

January 28 - July 30, 2023

The important work done over the past decades to illuminate the contributions of historically marginalized and overlooked women has largely concentrated on white painters associated with the postwar, 20th-century New York school’s abstract expressionism. While Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, and others among their contemporaries have rightfully been ensconced in the pantheon of great American abstract artists, many more—from all periods—remain neglected by scholars and museums alike. This exhibition proposes a different way of looking at abstraction in American art. 


Drawn almost entirely from the permanent collection, Women and Abstraction: 1741–Now is not a comprehensive survey. Instead, this installation takes advantage of the Addison’s deep holdings to explore a more nuanced and expansive history of the development of abstraction in America. Through the inclusion of works created hundreds of years before the advent of abstract expressionism as well as objects historically denied the status of fine art, this exhibition explores how women have deployed the visual language and universal formal concerns of abstraction—color, line, form, shape, contrast, pattern, and texture—to create works of art across a wide variety of media (including painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, ceramics, and textiles) from the 18th century to the present day. Rejecting chronology, hierarchies of medium, and the restrictive definitions of art movements, Women and Abstraction invites the viewer to draw aesthetic connections across seemingly disparate objects, complicating ingrained notions of what abstraction is and is not.

abstract painting

The Shape of Freedom: International Abstraction after 1945

Hedda Sterne | Museum Barberini, Potsdam, Germany

June 4 — September 25, 2022

The exhibition examines the creative interplay between Abstract Expressionism and Art Informel in transatlantic exchange and dialogue, from the mid-1940s to the end of the Cold War.

Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera

Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera

Hedda Sterne | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

November 28, 2018 - Ongoing

Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera will begin in the 1940s and extend into the twenty-first century to explore large-scale abstract painting, sculpture, and assemblage through more than fifty works from The Met collection, a selection of loans, and promised gifts and new acquisitions. Iconic works from The Met collection, such as Jackson Pollock's classic "drip" painting Autumn Rhythm (1950) and Louise Nevelson's monumental Mrs. N's Palace (1964–77), will be shown in conversation with works by international artists, such as Japanese painter Kazuo Shiraga and the Hungarian artist Ilona Keserü. The exhibition will be punctuated with special loans of major works by Helen Frankenthaler, Carmen Herrera, Shiraga, Joan Snyder, and Cy Twombly.


In the wake of unprecedented destruction and loss of life during World War II, many painters and sculptors working in the 1940s grew to believe that traditional easel painting and figurative sculpture no longer adequately conveyed the human condition. In this context, numerous artists, including Barnett Newman, Pollock, and others associated with the so-called New York School, were convinced that abstract styles—often on a large scale—most meaningfully evoked contemporary states of being. Many of the artists represented in Epic Abstraction worked in large formats not only to explore aesthetic elements of line, color, shape, and texture but also to activate scale's metaphoric potential to evoke expansive—"epic"—ideas and subjects, including time, history, nature, the body, and existential concerns of the self.