The Onward of Art: American Abstract Artists Celebrates its 80th Anniversary

"It seems imperative to consider not just AAA's distinguished past but, more importantly, its robust present." 

 --Karen Wilkin, curator of The Onward of Art 

An installation view, looking toward Sixth Avenue, of The Onward of Art at the 1285 Avenue of the Americas Gallery, New York City. Inset above: image of painting by Creighton Michael

American Abstract Artists was founded in 1936 at a time when the response to abstraction was neither as sophisticated nor as embracing as it is now. Providing collegial support as well as opportunities to discuss and exhibit, AAA likely paved the way for the development of abstraction in the United States. This post offers some views of the exhibition, but it is by no means thorough. For that, I urge you to visit the exhibition yourself. It's up through March 26. 

The lobby exhibition space features five tall partitions on each side of a central entryway. The effect is almost theatrical, not unlike the wings of the stages on nearby Broadway. Each wall features artwork installed on both sides. For a curator it's an opportunity to install a large show in a way that allows the grouping of similar visual ideas. For a viewer it's an opportunity to consider a large exhibition in comprehensible vignettes. The Onward of Art features 65 artists represented by close to 100 works, (Disclaimer: I am a new member of the group and my work is included in this exhibition, so this walk through offers numerous installation views but no opinions.)  

Emily Berger, left; Dorothea Rockburne

Thornton Willis, top; Lucio Pozzi, left; Lorenza Sannai

Clockwise from top left: Two by Nancy Manter; Judith Murray; two by Don Voisine; two by Alice Adams. Foreground: Jim Osman. Photo Nancy Manter

Don Voisine
Jim Osman 

Clockwise from top left: Mara Held; two by Cecily Kahn; two by Gail Gregg; two by Heidi Gluck

Gail Gregg
Cecily Kahn 

Same side of the exhibition space, but looking in from the Sixth Avenue entrance. Clockwise from top left: Irene Rousseau, Roger Jorgensen; two by Joanne Mattera

Joanne Mattera

Claire Seidl

Richard Timperio

The other side of the exhibition space, looking toward Sixth Avenue. Facing wall: David Row, top

Top: Stephen Westfall; Gilbert Hsaio; left and right: John Obuck

Gilbert Hsaio

Clockwise from top: Mark Dagley, Gabriele Evertz. two by Marvin Brown

Clockwise from top right: Ce Roser, Naomi Boretz
Below: Anne Russinof

Long view with the Sixth Avenue entry at your back

Top: Stephen Maine. Below from left: two by Jane Logemann; two by David MacKenzie

Clockwise from top left: Siri Berg, Julian Jackson, two by Henry Brown, two by Daniel G. Hill;  Edward Shalala

Daniel G. Hill
Henry Brown 

Looking toward Sixth Avenue. Clockwise from top: Sharon Brant, Katinka Mann, two by Manfred Mohr

Mary Schiliro. Photo: Paula Overbay

Installation view with the opening crowd
Middle wall, clockwise from top: Steven Alexander, Mary Schiliro, James Juszczyk. Barely visible in that bay is a vitrine with brochures and announcements from AAA's exhibition history.Photo: Allen Strombosky

Below: View of the vitrine. Photo: Jung Nam Lee

A look back as we move into the future: A splendid feature of the exhibition is the opportunity to see works by early members of American Abstract Artists. In addition to the tabletop vitrine pictured above, six niches hold historical works. It was difficult to avoid the reflection of the glass, so you're seeing angled shots that give you as clear a view as possible. When you visit the exhibition, do not miss this section! With Sixth Avenue at your back, walk all the way down the left side of the lobby until you come to here:

Vitrines with work from early AAA members, many of whom were group founders

Alice Trumbull Mason, Esphyr Slobodkina

Gertrude Greene, Balcomb Greene

Harry Holtzman, who introduced Mondrian to AAA and sponsored his entry into the U.S.; Charmion von Wiegand

Piet Mondrian

Ad Reinhardt

The catalog can be seen online here

. . . . . .

There's more!
American Abstract Artists' 80th Anniversary celebration continues with a two-gallery exhibition that will open on Saturday in New York City. Visible Histories, curated by Max Weintraub, will take place at the Abrons Art Center and Morris-Warren Gallery, both on the Lower East Side. A catalog can be viewed online.
Here, art by Mary Schiliro, 
Random Dip 1, 2015


Image from the Huffington Post


Fair Fetched: The Wrapup

Frida #1 at Scope: Kazuhiro Tsuji at Copro Gallery, Santa Monica

Three Fridas showed up in Miami. No, this is not the start of a joke. There might have been more, but all I saw was three. You know the saying, "Two of anything is a coincidence. Three's a trend." Of course Frida has been trending for the past 25 years. But towels? They were all over the fairs as well (and they could have been put to good use with all the rain). Then there were the requisite oddities. Take a look. And may everyone own a reflective sculpture that adds a few inches to your height and knocks off 10 pounds.

Frida #2 at ABMB: Walter Pach at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, New York City
Frida #3 at ABMB: Yusamasa Morimoto at Luhring Augustine, New York City

The Beaded President at ABMB: Liza Lou at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris and Salzburg

The Alien Among us at ABMB: Matt Johnson at 303 Gallery, New York City
(cast and painted bronze)

The Love Child of Carl Andre and Estee Lauder at ABMB: Sylvie Fleury at Salon 94, New York City
Detail below

Pop Quiz: Art or Not Art?

Top: not art | Middle: art | Bottom: not art
Middle photo at NADA: Installation at The Sunday Painter, London

Trending: Towels

ABMB: Paul Lee at Stuart Shave Modern Art, London
Detail below

ABMB: Amanda Ross-Ho at Mitchell-Innes and Nash, New York City
Detail below

ABMB: Alexandre de Cunha at CRG Gallery, New York City
Detail below

NADA: Brendan Fowler at Capital Gallery, San Francisco

SCOPE: Jonathan Santoro at Crane Arts, Philadelphia
Detail below (actually, this one is cast plaster)

ABMB: Your intrepid reporter, a little bit taller and thinner reflected in polished steel

All Over But the Recovery

It's actually quite great to spend five days doing nothing but looking at art, but it's tiring. The subsequent 25 days spent slogging through some 3500 images to select and prepare several hundred for publication come with a different physical experience: pressure and exhaustion. Consider the following images metaphors for the experience. I look forward to unwinding, loosening up, and re-inflating. And I'm going to take the rest of the year off.

Aqua Art: Ross Bonfanti at Projects Gallery, Miami

ABMB: Jose Davila at Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen

Frank Hyder sculptures, from his Janis Project, in need of some inflating

The End

Friends: If you have enjoyed this series, please donate to this blog. It cost an enormous amount of money to travel to and stay in Miami for five days, and while I was writing these reports I was not painting, which is how I earn my living. Your modest donation is most welcome. The PayPal link is on the sidebar right, just under the header. Thank you.