Permanent Collection:Act IV
ABSTRACT EPRESSIONISM:
the second wave
Conrad M a r c a - R e l l i

Robert M o t h e r w e l l

Theodorus S t a m o s

Philip G u s t o n

Bernard C o h e n


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October 19, 2002 through January 17, 2003
Burke Gallery
Open Daily, Noon to 4pm

Plattsburgh State Art Museum
Plattsburgh State University


Abstract Expressionism is generally credited with being the first international style to originate in the Americas. During the early 1940’s unnoticed, the muses had packed their bags and slipped out of Paris, leaving it to the pre-war world of Sartre and Picasso, and headed for New York (perhaps in Peggy Guggenheim’s entourage) to take up residence on the lower east side and to give Bohemia’s life yet another address. After acclimatizing themselves to the Cedar Bar and Waldorf cafeteria, the creative strings of the early century scattered and knotted by fascism and communism began to be rewoven in an unexpected and new world style. Once again the bourgeois got it in the head and once again the bourgeois reacted with enthusiastic support. Seventh Avenue garment district materialism supported the Ashkeneci mysticism and combined with a mid-west American current producing startling individuality and internationalism. Finally, this could only be a New York Style.

As the Abstract Expressionist style or New York school gained a dominance in the 50’s and 60’s, the artists were grouped in generations or waves. The first naturally being Pollack, Rothko, DeKoorning and Kline, among others, and a second – including Stamos, Marca-Relli, Frakenthaler and Mitchell. Categories did not really hold, as they never do in art, because certain protean people are indicating the future while they create the present, such as Motherwell, the minimalist cum expressionist and Guston, a painter of subtle yet massive inflections.

We tend to know these masters mainly by their paintings, but as a group they produced many prints – screen and etchings, collages and multiples defined as editioned prints, collages and sculptures.

Plattsburgh is fortunate in having a large selection of works by many of these transitional figures. The Ackerman Foundation in 1984-87 gifted the Motherwells - particularly the windows series and the Stamos infinity series, and a large selection of Marca-Relli multiples. A significant group of elegant Stamos collages and maquettes for tapestries were given to the collection by Regina Slatkin along with three great collages by Conrad Marca-Relli, all maquettes for tapestries commissioned by Modern Master Tapestries.

This collection shows some beautiful significant art created at a critical time in American aesthetic history. It also indicates the initial coming of age of the Plattsburgh State Permanent Art Collection — no longer a series of isolated gifts and tastes, but beginning to be an integrated body of material from which work can be drawn to illustrate and teach important concepts in the visual arts.

-Edward R. Brohel, Director



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The Plattsburgh State Art Museum is comprised of over 4,500 works of art, representing numerous regions of the world, from the ancient to the contemporary. Works are displayed within our three main galleries, an outdoor sculpture park and exhibition areas throughout the campus. These facilities produce over twenty-five exhibitions a year of both a national and regional nature. Expanding upon the pluralistic ideal of Andre Malreaux's concept of a "Museum Without Walls," the Plattsburgh State Art Museum has become an open visual art resource for the College and the Champlain Valley/Adirondack Region.


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