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Exhibition celebrates museum's excellent collection of postwar abstract art
Leon Polk Smith (American, 1906–1996). Modular Series: #171 Green-Blue, 1971. Acrylic on canvas. Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Gift of the Austin Fairchild Art Foundation from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Warren, 1987.017.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.- Opened today, Friday, April 19 on the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s third floor, “Postwar Abstraction: Variations” celebrates the Museum’s excellent collection of postwar abstract art through 31 works including paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints. The original exhibition, curated by Dr. Roja Najafi, spans from 1952 to 1996 and includes popular works by Sam Francis, Ellsworth Kelly, Paul Reed, Gene Davis, Howard Mehring and Leon Polk Smith, among others.

“The half-century or so following the end of World War II was one of the most fertile periods in the history of abstract painting,” said Najafi. “The works featured in ‘Postwar Abstraction: Variations’ highlight a period of remarkable creativity, when ideas of abstraction and the nature and limits of artistic mediums were being hotly contested by artists. The works on view in these galleries range across a spectrum of styles, from expressive and gestural to placid and restrained to austere and mechanical. But all of these works share a commitment to pure abstraction.”

“The artists featured in this exhibition continually sought to redefine what painting was, and what it could be,” added Dr. Michael Anderson, director of curatorial affairs. “In addition to visitor favorites, we are also excited to present rarely shown works by Sam Gilliam, Helen Frankenthaler, Suzanne McClelland, Mark Tobey, Richard Pousette-Dart, Ida Kohlmeyer, Leonardo Nierman and Herbert Bayer.”

“Postwar Abstraction: Variations” highlights movements as diverse as Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Hard-Edge painting, Op Art and Minimalism.

In addition to “Dale Chihuly: Magic & Light” and “Postwar Abstraction: Variations,” the Museum’s newly reinstalled third floor galleries will also feature two smaller original installations concentrating on drawings by sculptors Seymour Lipton and Jason Peters.

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