Palm Springs Art Museum is proud to present the groundbreaking exhibition Women of Abstract Expressionism, opening Saturday, February 18 in the Annenberg Wing. The collection of more than 50 major paintings celebrates the often-unknown female artists of the significant Abstract Expressionist movement of the twentieth century. This is the first exhibition to present works by these artists all in one place and will be on view through May 28.
The historically important exhibition, curated by Gwen Chanzit of Denver Art Museum, brings together the unique contributions of 12 artists who played integral roles in what has been recognized as the first fully-American modern art movement. Working on both the east and west coasts during the 1940s and ’50s, the artists include Mary Abbott, Jay DeFeo, Perle Fine, Helen Frankenthaler, Sonia Gechtoff, Judith Godwin, Grace Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Deborah Remington, and Ethel Schwabacher.
Notable works in the exhibition include:
● Krasner’s Cornucopia (1958) and Charred Landscape (1960), which show the breadth of the artist’s development, even as she lived in the shadow of husband Jackson Pollock.
● De Kooning’s monumental oil on canvas, Bullfight (1959), responds to the energy and excitement the artist witnessed at bullfights in Juárez, Mexico.
● Gechtoff’s contributions, which are pivotal for understanding the differences between the Bay area and New York in terms of gender bias within the Abstract Expressionist movement.
“The female pioneers of the Abstract Expressionist movement were truly marginalized during a period when women artists were almost automatically considered second-rate. During their lifetime, few of them received recognition anywhere close to that of their male peers,” said Elizabeth Armstrong, Palm Springs Art Museum Executive Director. “The exhibition of the artists in Women of Abstract Expressionism is long overdue, and provides the chance to experience the power and freshness of their work first hand.”
An original video made for the exhibition includes accounts about exciting moments in these artists' lives, as well as issues affecting women during the era, and is on view in the gallery. Additionally, an illustrated catalog accompanies the exhibition and is available in the Museum Store.
Additional community programming to complement the exhibition includes the following:
On Monday, February 13, the public is invited to attend The Emergence of an American Art Scene: Modern Art to 1945 featuring Cécile Whiting, PhD, Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Art History and the Graduate Program in Visual Studies, University of California, Irvine. Part of Mondays@The Museum series, this lecture is held at Annenberg Theater from 10 a.m. to noon. The cost is $15 for members and $20 nonmembers.
Also part of Mondays@The Museum lecture series, on March 20, Suzanne Hudson, PhD, Associate Professor of Art History and Fine Arts, USC will discuss Post-War Art – Abstract Expressionism. Held at Annenberg Theater from 10 a.m. to noon, the cost of the lecture is $15 for members and $20 nonmembers.
On Thursday, April 6, three panelists will discuss the artworks and lives of several of the featured artists. Gwen Chanzit, Curator of Modern Art at Denver Art Museum, speaks on the artist Perle Fine; Ellen G. Landau, Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emerita of the Humanities, Case Western Reserve University, explores the lives of artist couples Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock, and Elaine and Bill de Kooning; and Susan Landauer, independent art historian and curator, delves into the world of abstract expressionist women in San Francisco. The discussion is moderated by Donald Osborne, Vice Co-chair of Programs, Contemporary Art Council of Palm Springs Art Museum. The panel is held at Annenberg Theater, from 4 to 6 p.m., and is free of charge to the public. Presented by Contemporary Art Council, this program is sponsored by Deborah Remington Charitable Trust for the Visual Arts, Frank Garofolo, Donald Osborne, and Pamela Smallwood.
Women of Abstract Expressionism is organized by the Denver Art Museum. It is generously funded by Merle Chambers; Henry Luce Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; the Ponzio Family; Harmes C. Fishback Foundation Trust; Dedalus Foundation; Joan Mitchell Foundation; Helen Frankenthaler Foundation; the donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign; and the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
The Palm Springs Art Museum presentation is funded in part by Arlene Schnitzer and Jordan Schnitzer, the Contemporary Art Council, and the Erik E. and Edith H. Bergstrom Foundation.
Exhibition season sponsors include Carol & Jim Egan, David Kaplan & Glenn Ostergaard, Dorothy C. Meyerman, Marion & Bob Rosenthal, and the Herman and Faye Sarkowsky Charitable Foundation. The Desert Sun is the exhibition media sponsor.
Eisenhower Medical Center, Renova Solar, and Provident Bank are the Museum’s official corporate sponsors this season.