Abstraction comes from many different sources. It may begin with a concrete object, or something less tangible, such as an emotion or thought. Artists use abstraction to express that which cannot be conveyed through representation and to explore other sources of art-making. The works in the exhibition date from immediately after World War II until the present. Some were strongly influenced by abstract expressionism, and others stem from later movements, such as minimalism and conceptualism. This exhibition highlights three important sources of abstraction: gesture, emotion, and shape.
This exhibition was curated by Philip Dytko, Class of 2017, Pauline Lewis, Class of 2016, and Molly Siegel, Class of 2016, each of whom was enrolled in Professor Mary Coffey’s ARTH 71: The American Century. This course provides a thematic overview of American art in the twentieth century. Students in the class were placed into curatorial teams of three, and each team identified a theme, selected six objects from the permanent collection, drafted labels, and proposed an installation design for the exhibition. The teams presented their proposals to the entire class at the end of the term, and students voted on their favorite. Gesture, Emotion, Shape: Sources of Abstraction was the winning exhibition.