MAKERS OF A NEW WORLD: The 20th Century Avant-Garde And The Post-War Americans They Inspired October - November, 2016
MAKERS OF A NEW WORLD draws it’s title from the seminal 1944 publication, ABSTRACT AND SURREALIST ART IN AMERICA, written by the visionary collector, Sidney Janis. This important tome in American Modern art history articulately compared the more mature, European avant-garde with an emerging generation of nascent, avant-garde Americans. Commenting on the artistic and cultural breakthroughs of the time, Janis presciently explained, “The artist is now truly the maker of a new world, the picture, and he makes it in the image of things he thinks and feels about the world and about himself, not as an imitation of nature.”
This exhibition features original prints in various mediums by six European Modern Masters – Josef Albers (1888-1976), Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Salvador Dali (1904-1989), Joan Miro (1893-1983), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Roberto Matta (1911-2002) – in tandem with select members of the generation of Post War Americans they influenced – Jim Dine (B.1935), Sam Francis (1923-1994), Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), James Rosenquist (B.1933), and Donald Sultan (B.1951).
Drawing from the various revolutionary ideologies and techniques of Surrealism, Futurism, Bauhaus, Automatism, Non-Objective, etc., introduced by the Europeans prior to, during, and post WW-II, the Americans evolved these philosophies and techniques initially into America’s first “homegrown” art movement, Abstract Expressionism; a term coined by the New Yorker Magazine art critic, Robert Coates. Abstract Expressionism, promoted by the leading gallerists of the day, particularly Peggy Guggenheim, Betty Parsons, and Sidney Janis, was an artistic tsunami that predominated in the late 1940’s and throughout the 1950’s at the near exclusion of any other genre.
By the late 1950’s and early 1960’s a younger post-war generation of artists, along with several of their older colleagues, began evolving many of these same influences into a uniquely contemporary American dialect, ranging from Abstract to Pop to Minimalism, that still remains relevant today. This exhibition brings together an exceptional collection of over thirty-five original prints by eleven of the most important figures that contributed to the canon of 20th century Modern and Contemporary.
“MAKERS…” is inspired in part by the visionary collector, Sidney Janis (1896-1989), whose artistic passion spanned the 20th century, from early European avant-garde through Abstract Expressionism to Pop. He was one of America’s most prominent collectors of Modern Art, and as Chairman of Museum of Modern Art’s selection Committee, convinced the board to arrange the loan of Pablo Picasso’s extraordinary painting, Guernica, to MoMA in 1939. (More than any single painting of the 20th century, Guernica influenced generations of American artists.) In 1948, he founded The Sidney Janis Gallery representing numerous members of the European Avant-Garde and later iconic figures of the New York School, including Arshile Gorky, Willem deKooning, Jackson Pollock, William Baziotes, Adolph Gottlieb, and others. In 1962 Janis opened the groundbreaking and controversial exhibition, “The International Exhibition of the New Realists” (Later known as “Pop”) exhibiting Claus Oldenburg, Jim Dine, Tom Wesselman, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and others.
Sidney Janis died in 1989 at the age of 93.
MAKERS OF A NEW WORLD is another important chapter in the gallery’s continuing dedication to the significance of 20th Century Modern, and the multi-faceted foundation it laid, that Contemporary artists of yesterday and today have continued to build upon.