Women of Abstract Expressionism

Ryan Steadman (Observer Culture) on a new retrospective at Denver Art Museum
Under-recognized female artists throughout history are slowly but surely starting to get the attention they deserve. First there was a look at the women of the Surrealist movement at Sotheby’s last summer, and now a show that’s being dubbed the “first museum exhibition dedicated to the women of Abstract Expressionism” is set to open at the Denver Art Museum in June.

Joan Mitchell, Grace Hartigan and Helen Frankenthaler, circa. 1960.

The exhibition, titled “Women of Abstract Expressionism”, has been organized by DAM’s curator of modern art Gwen Chanzit and consists of 51 paintings by 12 groundbreaking women artists who contributed to Abstract Expressionism; the large-scale, imageless painting style that firmly put New York City on the avant-garde art map in the 1940s and 50s. The artists in the exhibition 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.

Some artists in the show, like Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell, are already hugely celebrated, but lesser known practitioners like Mary Abbott, Sonia Gechtoff and Deborah Remington will also be highlighted. Often overshadowed, either because of their artist husbands (de Kooning, Krasner) or for living outside of New York City (Sonia Gechtoff), the women Ab-Ex painters in this show will hopefully help to change the thinking behind this historic art movement, which had generally been viewed as predominantly male—even particularly macho—until recently.

“’Women of Abstract Expressionism’, for the first time, positions this expanded group of painters within the context of abstract expressionism and its cultural milieu,” said Ms. Chanzit, who is also a professor of Museum Studies at the University of Denver, in a release. “It also will present these female artists together for the first time.” [Read More]

Visit the Denver Art Museum website for more information about the exhibition.

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