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.