Recently on show at the Royal Academy of Arts London, the Guggenheim Bilbao's presentation has included additional works from its own Collection and the museum's innovative architecture provides a spectacular backdrop, especially for the large format works. The exhibition is also part of a special programme of events to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the museum's opening.
Works on show by Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, David Smith and Clyfford Still amongst others exemplify the individual diversity and freedom of expression that were characteristic of Abstract Expressionism in comparison to the more formulaic approach of the Cubists and Surrealists.
This exhibition readdresses the common notion that Abstract Expressionism was a unified movement and instead presents it as a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. Mostly colossal in scale, works are sometimes intense, spontaneous and incredibly expressive, and in other cases contemplative through the use of vast colour fields. In its later phase, the neat categories of "gesturalists" and "colour-field" artists that are often used to define Abstract Expressionists were outstripped by artists such as Philip Guston, Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler who each evolved their own visual palimpsests.
The exhibition is organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, with the collaboration of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The exhibition is curated by David Anfam, Edith Devaney and Lucía Agirre, and sponsored by Fundación BBVA.