Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5.30pm

22 East 80th Street, NY 10075, New York, United States
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5.30pm


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Thu 25 Apr 2024 to Fri 21 Jun 2024

22 East 80th Street, NY 10075 Americans in Paris

Mon-Fri 10am-5.30pm

Artists: Louise Bourgeois - John Chamberlain - Alexander Calder - Etel Adnan - Beauford Delaney - Ed Clark - Ellsworth Kelly - Joan Mitchell - Irene Rice-Pereira - Ad Reinhardt - Edda Renouf - Yvonne Thomas

Barbara Mathes Gallery presents Americans in Paris, an exhibition exploring the influence of Paris on generations of 20th century American artists. United by an interest in abstraction, these artists absorbed the lessons of both French Impressionism and the avant-garde. They explored museums and galleries, and established dialogues with French and expatriate artists and writers. As a result of their exposure to the city, they developed their artistic languages in ways that transformed American art.

Installation Views

The artist and writer Etel Adnan first moved from Beirut to Paris in 1950 to study philosophy at the Sorbonne. Although she left for the United States in 1955, she eventually divided her time between Paris and California. Untitled (2014) is characteristic of Adnan’s abstract landscapes created using a palette knife. These works suggest the shape of Mount Tamalpais near Adnan’s home in California – an object of fixation that she compared to Paul Cézanne’s relationship with Mont Sainte-Victoire.

The interwar Paris that Alexander Calder encountered in 1926 was the epicenter of the avant-garde. It was in Paris that Calder developed his signature "mobiles’ in 1931 and his first ‘stabiles’ the following year. When he returned to the United States in 1933, his artistic identity was formed. Untitled (1940) is a dramatic example of Calder’s stabiles that recalls the suggestive formal vocabulary of his friend Joan Míro while exemplifying the equilibrium and playful biomorphism that characterizes Calder’s mature work.

With proceeds from the G.I. Bill, Ed Clark arrived in Paris in 1952 and remained for four years, becoming central to a group of abstract painters and African American intellectuals. During this period Clark began what he called ‘the big sweep’: his signature technique of using a push-broom to apply paint. In Untitled (1984) he reinterprets the oval forms that had been central to his pioneering series of shaped canvases in a work that epitomizes his unique approach to color.

After first visiting Paris in 1948, Joan Mitchell returned frequently before finally relocating permanently to France in 1959. In Untitled (1983) a rectangular field of blended blue pigment covers the page, revealing only hints of pink and yellow and black gestures. Mitchell here approaches pastel – a medium often associated with delicate sketches – as a tool for gestural bravura. At the same time, her palette and her use of pastel recall the French Impressionist landscapes which influenced her visual approach after her move to France.

Ad Reinhardt was an avid traveler throughout the 1950s and 1960s, keeping extensive journals detailing art and architecture. His relationship with Paris was solidified by his 1960s solo show Mysticisme athée at Galerie Iris Clert. Painted several years earlier, Reinhardt’s Number 11 (Flowers) (1949) is an outstanding example of his early exploration of calligraphic gesture and romanticism.

Additional artists will include: Louise Bourgeois, John Chamberlain, Beauford Delaney, Ellsworth Kelly, I. Rice Pereira, Edda Renouf and Yvonne Thomas.

all images © the gallery and the artist(s)

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