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Works by American Modernists and Abstract Expressionists on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery
Charles Burchfield, Sun and Rocks, 1950-53. Ink, conte crayon and watercolor on buff wove paper, 12 x 17 inches, 30.5 x 43.2 cm. Courtesy of Private Collection. Photo by Joshua Nefsky.

NEW YORK, NY.- Paul Kasmin Gallery iannounces the exhibition The Enormity of the Possible on view September 7 – October 28 at 297 Tenth Avenue. Curated by Priscilla Vail Caldwell the exhibition features both late work by seminal artists from the American Modern movement and early work by a select group of Abstract Expressionists. The bold improvisational approach and perspective of artists such as Milton Avery, Charles Burchfield, Stuart Davis, Elie Nadelman or Helen Torr among others radically expanded the possibilities for painting and sculpture in the 20th century.

Bound by no “school” or manifesto, Modernists played a role in initiating the shift in focus of the international art world from Paris to New York. Many had lived through both World Wars and witnessed seismic changes to America’s social, economic and political landscape. Emerging from this turmoil, many rejected European romanticism and acknowledged abstraction as a vehicle of freedom, a way to express a purer experience — a point of view that would be fully embraced by many of the future prominent figures of the New York School. There are many examples, for instance Marin’s painting Movement, VI from 1946 divides the composition into zones, foreshadowing Rothko’s format of stacked rectangles. Burchfield’s Sun and Rocks, 1953 employs an overall rhythm reminiscent of Pollock’s poured canvases and Stuart Davis’ late work with its hot colors and hard edges, a precursor to both Pop and Minimalism.

There is ample documentation of the direct engagement between these two generations. Marin along with Gorky, Willem de Kooning and Pollock represented America in the 1950 Venice Biennale. Avery and Rothko painted together in Provincetown, Massachusetts during the summer of 1957. The closeness of their relationship was affirmed when Rothko delivered Avery’s Eulogy in 1965 at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. Artists including Dove and Torr, who were well known for listening to music as an integral part of their creative process, engendered a fresh attitude towards studio practice. Even more, Davis was among the first to consider music in conjunction with painting, evident in his bold use of colors and expressive lines that recall a similar rhythm and vigor to that of jazz. Donald Judd wrote of Davis in 1962, “There should be applause, Davis at sixty-seven is still a hotshot.”1 This intimate exchange of approaches and modes of critical thinking incubated an entirely new and purely American aesthetic that would define art in the 20th century.

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