Includes: Mary Abbott, Dusti Bongé, Jay DeFeo, Perle Fine, Elaine De Kooning, Anne Ryan, Alma Thomas, Michael West
Both the post-war action painters and the colour field Abstract Expressionists shared the same common belief: that following the war and the surrealist movement, abstract painting was able to achieve a transcendentalism that figurative painting could not. As Barnett Newman stated in 1948, ‘Instead of making cathedrals out of Christ, man, or ‘‘life’’, we are making it out of ourselves, out of our own feelings’. How can we reconcile this narrative with a distinct lack of women and painters of colour in the canon?
The exhibition comes at a unique time when there is a burgeoning interest in the plight of twentieth-century female abstract artists, both amongst revisionist scholars and museum curators, popularised by Mary Gabriel’s 2018 book, Ninth Street Women. Huxley-Parlour’s exhibition builds on a this project by focusing on works beyond painting: all works are on paper and at a smaller scale than is generally associated with Abstract Expressionism. The exhibition, too, explores the practises of women in abstraction beyond the mainstream big five.