The Royal Academy of Arts in London has a major exhibition of Abstract Expressionism. I went on Friday after an interesting, but deeply depressing, day at the British Academy at a workshop on European Union and Disunion.
Here’s the Royal Academy’s description:
In the “age of anxiety” surrounding the Second World War and the years of free jazz and Beat poetry, artists like Pollock, Rothko and de Kooning broke from accepted conventions to unleash a new confidence in painting.
Often monumental in scale, their works are at times intense, spontaneous and deeply expressive. At others they are more contemplative, presenting large fields of colour that border on the sublime. These radical creations redefined the nature of painting, and were intended not simply to be admired from a distance but as two-way encounters between artist and viewer.It was a watershed moment in the evolution of 20th-century art, yet, remarkably, there has been no major survey of the movement since 1959.
This autumn we bring together some of the most celebrated art of the past century, offering the chance to experience the powerful collective impact of Pollock, Rothko, Still, de Kooning, Newman, Kline, Smith, Guston and Gorky as their works dominate our galleries with their scale and vitality.
I don’t know much about this movement, so the audio guide was helpful. I had a sense of the size of some of the many Mark Rothko canvases, but the scale of two Jackson Pollack murals was quite something. The guide was helpful on some of the techniques used to produce these – more than is perhaps obvious. There was a lot to take in, and the Friday crowds were a bit overwhelming, so perhaps I’ll be able to make a return visit before it closes in January. Worth a visit.