Suitcase Paintings: Small Scale works by Abstract Expressionists

The Preacher
The Preacher, 1971
Willem De Kooning
Lithograph
Museum purchase

The David Owsley Museum of Art Ball State University’s major fall exhibition, Suitcase Paintings: Small Scale Abstract Expressionism, illustrates two truths. The first is that the Abstract Expressionists worked well in small formats. Director Peter Blume enthusiastically emphasizes the second. “There are some very important artists here who were not well-represented in their time, because if you weren’t in New York, and you weren’t a man, you weren’t a part of the commercial and critical establishment.” Abstract Expressionism flourished after World War II, and marked the shift of the creative center of modern painting from Paris to New York. This shift favored American artists, but only if they lived on the east coast. Blume noted that artists from Chicago and California are well-represented in the exhibition, as are a number of women artists who were producing works during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism, but who were virtually ignored at that time. Grounded in psychology, these works of art depicted forms not found in the natural world, and they emphasized freedom of emotional expression, technique, and execution. “It was the culmination of the chaos of the 20th century on this generation of artists,” Blume said. “Their art is about the existential, individual, literal act of mark-making on the world.”

Exhibition Date: September 2, 2007 - December 7, 2007