The exhibition „Guggenheim Full Abstraction“ traces the origins and development of Abstract Art on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1940s to 1960s, through masterpieces from two museums founded by the American collectors Solomon R. Guggenheim (1861 – 1949) and his niece Peggy Guggenheim (1898–1979).
The exhibition focusses on questions like why abstract expressionism arose, the relationship between this style and surrealism and how it spread in the United States and Europe. It also reveals the story of the two famous collectors and shows a video mainly of the life of Peggy.
Afterwards one will understand what a very special and honest person Peggy Guggenheim was! She dedicated her life to art by collecting art and supporting many artists in Europe and the US. She even became a driving force in the rise of the abstract expressionism in the US where she opened in 1942 in New York the „Art of This Century Gallery„. The gallery exhibited important works by established European artists with an emphasis on surrealism and also exhibited the works of American artists. Among the artists were Hans Arp, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometto, Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, Ed Reinhardt, Hans Hofmann. Since 1947 her collection can be seen in her museum in Venice.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York opened in 1959.
In Brussels the ten exhibit halls with different topics show masterpieces of the Guggenheims: In the beginning you see the suitcase of Marcel Duchamp where he put some 60 miniatures of his work. European artists like Max Ernst, two wonderful paintings of the American artist Mark Rothko as examples of his „icons of meditation“, the typical Lucio Fontana works, Jean Dubuffet’s awesome „Propitious Moment“ as well as his known „Staircaise“ . One hall is totally dedicated to Jackson Pollock, who was heavily promoted by Peggy. Abstract Expressionist art invites artist and viewer to meet. While the artist expresses their emotions and conveys a sense of their presence in the work, the viewer’s perception is the final component in the mix. Abstract painting “confronts you”, Pollock said in 1950. Did you ever see Jackson Pollock’s black-and-white paintings in ink on paper? (There is one side more shown in the Kunstmuseum Basel: „The figurative Pollock“). Another eye-catcher is the work of Hans Hoffmann*). Even if his work is „full abstraction“ you may feel that this artist was inspired by nature.
Don’t miss the opportunity to meet them all!
*)Born 1880 in Weißenburg, Germany, he not only became a famous artist; he also was a brillant teacher of art and founded an art school in 1915. In 1932 he emigrated to New York where he founded in 1934 the Hans Hofmann school of Fine Arts. Unintentional he even provoked the term „abstract expressionism“ when a critic described Hofmanns works as „splatter and daub style of painting“
(Spritzer und Schmiererei). At the moment Hans Hofmann is shown in the Kunsthalle Bielefeld.
19.10.2016 – 12.02.2017
ING Cultural Centre
Mont des Arts/Place Royale, 6
See also: Five things you need to know about Abstract Expressionism under: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/abstract-expressionism