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Abstract Vocabularies: Selections from the Collection

Saturday, Oct 16, 2021 to Sunday, Apr 24, 2022

Drawn from the Museum’s collection, Abstract Vocabularies presents a group of paintings and sculptures created in the past ten years, offering a sampling of recent modes of contemporary abstraction. The artists featured in this exhibition make use of an array of artistic strategies to produce their own abstract visual languages.

Many of the artists focus on the dynamics of shape and color, exploring the perceptual effects created through their combinations and juxtapositions. In several pieces, artists have used unconventional painting techniques to achieve surprising visual effects. These forms of mark making result in surfaces that resemble drawing or rubbings yet are created with paint. Some artists incorporate other materials, such as beeswax or fabric, to foreground the texture and physicality of their work.

Abstract art is typically non-representational, meaning it does not refer to or depict actual objects, figures, or scenes. Yet several artists focus on the formal qualities of a work while maintaining a connection to the visible world. In this way, abstraction can be seen as a process of reducing a recognizable composition down to simpler elements. Some of these works may suggest a figure or landscape that has been rendered in new forms. The familiarity of certain geometries or patterns prompts a reconsideration of the things we regularly encounter but do not always pay attention to.

The artworks presented in Abstract Vocabularies encourage deep and extended looking. By observing these works in close detail, we can begin to see how artists push the boundaries between what is representation and what is abstraction.

Pictured: Lucy Bull, Pussy Willow, 2021, oil on linen, 69 × 120 inches. Photo by Jeff McLane. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles.