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Alexxa Gotthardt. Jun 28, pm. Abstract Expressionism. Jackson Pollock. Willem de Kooning. Helen Frankenthaler. Even when these artists were invited into the members- and male-only Eighth Street Club to discuss abstraction and its ability to channel emotional states—as was the case with Perle Fine, Joan Mitchell, and Mary Abbott—their work rarely sold as well or was written about as widely or favorably.
And these women received far fewer solo exhibitions than their male contemporaries. Now in a long-overdue exhibition at the Denver Art Museuma sizable, boundary-pushing group of female Abstract Expressionists are finally getting their due. Below, we spotlight some of the most innovative practitioners admittedly, there are many more than Lee Krasner.
Lee Krasner Four Lee Krasner Burning Candles American Federation of Arts. Inafter several years studying with artist Hans Hofmann. While she introduced her husband, Jackson Pollock, to the ideas and key progenitors of the movement for which he would become the posterboy, her relation to Pollock often superceded her own reputation as an artist.
Krasner is one of the few artists on this list who saw a retrospective of her work mounted during her lifetime ina year before her death. But her paintings, which burst with fierce, swooping lines and swollen shapes reminiscent of body parts, have only recently begun to receive their due as integral to shaping Abstract Expressionism and its legacy. Elaine de Kooning. Elaine de Kooning Bacchus 3 National Museum of Women in the Arts. They were unveiled at her first solo exhibition at the Stable Gallery in Perle Fine.
Perle Fine Summer I Perle Fine Early Morning Garden Across the street, the Hans Hofmann School buzzed with students eager to set objectivity aside and take up pure abstraction—Fine was one of them. Around the corner, Hofmann, de Kooning, and other AbEx pioneers discussed painting and swilled booze at The Club, their members-only haunt. Fine was one of the first and very few women allowed Serious black lady seeks Mitchell male its doors.
After moving to East Hampton with her husband, the photographer and art director Maurice Berezov, Fine made some of her most ambitious paintings—compositions that surged with deep passages of black paint and textured areas of collage. She worked on the floor to create these, moving across them using an elevated plank. Despite her innovative exploration of Abstract Expressionism, which she fused with an interest in the pure forms of Neo-Plasticism. Michael West. Michael Corinne West Gento Niese Michael Corinne West Cythera Shrine Heather James Fine Art. As early asshe studied with Hofmann alongside the painter-gallerist Betty Parsons.
Louise Nevelson. Arshile Gorky.
In the late s, they together concocted a new, masculine first name for West, who was born Corinne Michelle. She returned to New York after a stint in Rochester, and a exhibition included her work alongside the likes of Milton Avery.
Mark Rothko. Alma Thomas. Alma Thomas Untitled, ca. Alma Thomas Untitled, c. While Thomas, who is featured in a solo exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem this summer, is best known for her geometric compositions of blazing color, her early paintings from the s are rooted in the AbEx style, which unlocked her nimble experiments with hue and form. Her all-over canvases evince a deep curiosity with color and its ability to convey emotion.
Often inspired by landscapes, science, and the cosmos, they pulse with their deftly modulated palettes. Light blues bleed into darks with a sense of rushing, fluid movement. Joan Mitchell. Joan Mitchell Bracket Joan Mitchell Untitled When Mitchell settled in Serious black lady seeks Mitchell male York inafter receiving her BFA at the Art Institute of Chicago, she immediately became a mainstay on the avant-garde scene, thanks to her fiery wit and exuberant abstractions that married writhing, lyrical lines with searing colors rendered like staccato notes.
Inaround the time her marriage ended in divorce Mitchell is one of the few better-known women Abstract Expressionists who was not married to a famous male paintershe made good on her bold statements and mounted her first New York solo show. It would galvanize a steady stream of exhibitions in both the U. Mary Abbott. Mary Abbott All Green Mary Abbott Lucy. After separating from her husband inshe settled on 10th Street among the Abstract Expressionists and took classes at Subjects of the Artist School, founded by Robert Motherwell in his 8th Street studio.
Soon, she was making towering canvases characterized by sweeping brushstrokes that often merged into dense swarms of torrid, sensuous color inspired by Serious black lady seeks Mitchell male winter trips to Haiti and the Virgin Islands. Her broad brushstrokes were informed, in part, by her then-nascent dialogue with Willem de Kooning, who would be a lifelong sounding board and friend. She, like Mitchell, was also involved in the literary community and, in the late s, began embedding text into her Action paintings as part of a collaboration with the New York School poet Barbara Guest.
Jay DeFeo. Born Mary Joan DeFeo, the enigmatic San Francisco painter assumed the nickname Jay and began making art in junior high school, mentored by an artist-neighbor named Michelangelo, while living in San Jose. She went on to study art at Berkeley, where she won a fellowship that prompted a trip to Europe and her first important series, a group of abstract paintings that fused her interests in Abstract Expressionism, Italian architecture, and prehistoric art. They also helped to introduce the use of a monochrome palette to all-over abstraction. Byafter a stop in New York, she was back in San Francisco and became a fast fixture on the scene, and a neighbor and friend to fellow artists Joan Brown.
Sonia Gechtoff. Over the decade, her work became thick with gesture, impasto, and mixed media, a shift that culminated in a terrifically imposing work that was as much her crucible as her magnum opus. DeFeo spent eight years, from toworking solely on The Rose, a painting-cum-sculpture measuring over feet tall, almost one-foot thick, and weighing over 2, pounds.
An eviction noticed forced her to cease work on the piece, and also induced a several-year hiatus from artmaking. She only returned to the studio in the s. While the atmosphere in San Francisco was arguably less misogynistic than in New York, DeFeo no doubt still felt the gender inequalities of her time. Sonia Gechtoff Red Icon Anita Shapolsky Gallery. Sonia Gechtoff The Beginning In this new environment, Gechtoff developed a unique approach: She coated a palette knife with several colors, then smeared them with swooping gestures onto her canvases.
Grace Hartigan. Grace Hartigan Ocean Bathers Grimaldis Gallery. Though filled with shards of color and active gesture, her canvases never completely relinquished content. Often, they were embedded with social commentary that questioned the traditional role of women. Judith Godwin. Judith Godwin Epic ,Serious black lady seeks Mitchell male
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