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Amplified Abstraction: El Paso Museum of Art exhibits works from its collection
Karel Appel, Frightened Cat (1978). Lithograph on paper, 24 ¾ x 32 ½”. El Paso Museum of Art, Gift of William Lawrence Mackle, 1979.26.12.

EL PASO, TX.- The El Paso Museum of Art presents more than fifty works from its permanent collection outlining the major currents in monumental abstract painting since World War II. On view from July 12 through October 11, Amplified Abstraction shares this realm’s singular power to arrest us aesthetically, grip us viscerally, intrigue us intellectually, and play with us perceptually. Curated by EPMA Senior Curator, Dr. Patrick Shaw Cable, the exhibition is free to the public courtesy of sponsorship from local patrons Travis and Annabelle Johnson.

With the advent of Abstract Expressionism followed closely by hard-edge painting in the mid-twentieth century, artists were liberated to explore abstraction on a grand scale —through unrestrained brushwork and transcendent color, dizzying geometry and optical illusion, organic forms, or new industrial materials. Highlighting all these approaches and more, Amplified Abstraction is organized into four general themes— Gestural Abstraction, Elemental Geometry, Cubist Legacies, and The Allusive Abstract. Complementing the paintings are a select number of two-dimensional works in techniques like color lithography and mixed-media drawing, along with related wall reliefs and free-standing sculptures in metal, wood, and more modern materials.

The featured artworks range in date from 1959 to the present and are the creations of a variety of American and European artists. These include the historic figures Sam Francis and Karel Appel, respective leaders of postwar expressionist abstraction on either side of the Atlantic, and the contemporary El Paso artists Carlos Gutierrez and Gary Mark, both represented by large-scale geometric constructions made from manufactured media. The exhibition includes unexpected forms such as an oversized human navel, cats with expressionistic attitude, and a large orange origami giraffe.

Amplified Abstraction also provides a special opportunity to celebrate a principal strength of the EPMA contemporary collection: art by leading Texan painters and sculptors, most of which entered the Museum through gift or purchase from the 1990s through the next decade. Just some of the artists with Texas connections are David Aylsworth, James Drake, Vincent Falsetta, Vernon Fisher, Joseph Havel, Donald Judd, Charles Mary Kubricht, Joe Mancuso, Brian Portman, Paul Henry Ramirez, Andrea Rosenberg, Margo Sawyer, Karl Umlauf, Ben Woitena, and Dee Wolff.

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