Experiments in Abstraction
Experiments in Abstraction: Art in Southern California, 1945 to 1980, addresses a generation of California-based artists who explored the possibilities of abstraction. In the years following World War II, a distinctive style of art, identified as Hard-Edge painting, was developed by pioneering artists such as Karl Benjamin, Lorser Feitelson, Oskar Fischinger, Helen Lundeberg, and John McLaughlin. In 1959 Los Angeles Times art critic Jules Langsner coined the term “Hard-Edge Painting” to describe the work of these California painters. Partly a reaction against Abstract Expressionism, best known in the thickly layered paintings of American artists Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, Hard-Edge emphasized angular lines, reduced forms, precise surfaces, and rich colors. The resulting aesthetic is forever associated with mid-century California Modernism. Beyond the pioneering Hard-Edge painters, other California-based artists, including Charles Arnoldi, Sam Francis, and Ed Ruscha, continued to experiment and transform abstraction on the West Coast. This exhibition, which includes works from the Museum’s permanent collection and some local loans, explores the diversity of Post-War abstraction in Southern California.