In the decades following the Second World War, European and American artists developed a wide range of strategies and approaches to abstract painting and sculpture. This summer, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum will present Gesture, Scrape, Combine, Calculate: Postwar Abstraction from the Permanent Collection, showcasing more than a dozen large-scale yet rarely seen works that span gestural and lyrical abstraction, color-field painting, hard-edge abstraction, assemblage and other movements.
Organized by Meredith Malone, associate curator of the Kemper Art Museum, Gesture, Scrape, Combine, Calculate will complement the selection of abstract works on view in the museum’s Bernoudy Permanent Collection Gallery. Highlights will include Arshile Gorky’s lyrical Golden Brown (1943-44), which suggests subtle figuration as well as the topography surrounding the artist’s Connecticut home; Gene Davis’s vibrant stripe painting Equinox (1965), which delicately balances warm and cool color bands; and Anne Truitt’s Prima (1978), a freestanding wood column exactingly covered in multiple coats of semigloss paint, which deftly navigates color-field and minimalist approaches.
Other highlights will include Alberto Burri’s Gran Ferro M1 (1958), a raw assemblage of welded iron. Sam Francis’ Floating Blue (1959) depicts a maze of loosely applied skeins of paint that coalesce into an island of blue amidst an ocean of white. John McCracken’s Mandala VI (1972) implies both the meditative practices of Tibetan Buddhism and the aggressive clarity of modern corporate logotypes.
Also on view will be works by Max Bill, John Chamberlain, Pietro Consagra, Alan Davie, Richard Diebenkorn, Ibram Lassaw, Conrad Marca-Relli, Roberto Matta, Allan McCollum and Jules Olitski.
In conjunction with Gesture, Scrape, Combine, Calculate, the Kemper Art Museum will present a pair of Spotlight Talks focusing on individual works. On Wednesday, Aug. 25, Malone will discuss Allan McCollum’s Pam Beale (1971), which consists of rectangular strips of dyed and bleached canvas adhered together with caulk and attached directly to the wall. Then, on Wednesday, Sept. 1, Karen K. Butler, assistant curator, will examine Burri’s Gran Ferro M1. Both talks are free and open to the public and begin at 5 p.m. in the museum’s College of Art Gallery.
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, part of Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, is committed to furthering critical thinking and visual literacy through a vital program of exhibitions, publications and accompanying events. The museum dates back to 1881, making it the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi River. Today it boasts one of the finest university collections in the United States.
Gesture, Scrape, Combine, Calculate: Postwar Abstraction from the Permanent Collection will open Aug. 20 and remain on view through Sept. 20. The exhibition is free and open to the public. The Kemper Art Museum is located on Washington University’s Danforth Campus, near the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth boulevards. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The museum is closed Tuesdays. For more information, call (314) 935-4523 or visit kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu.
WHO: Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
WHAT: Exhibition, Gesture, Scrape, Combine, Calculate: Postwar Abstraction from the Permanent Collection
WHEN: Aug. 20 to Sept. 20.
WHERE: Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, near the intersection of Forsyth and Skinker boulevards.
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Closed Tuesdays.
COST: Free and open to the public.
INFORMATION: (314) 935-4523 or www.kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu