Mark Rothko. No. 15, 1957. Courtesy of The Royal Academy of Arts, London.
On the 27th of December De Kooning, Pollock, Rothko, and Kline echoed in my head as I entered the Abstract Expressionist show at the Royal Academy of Art. This is the second show at the RA I have seen and neither have disappointed. The beginning of the show starts with a room of early works by the Abstract Expressionist. I enjoyed this room particularly, because it allowed me to see little glimpses of the path these brave artists would take. For instance, Gustin's painting showed the future possibility of the red, white, and black color palette he would come to be known for. Pollock's painting showed the beginning of his love affair for the heavy, thick, gestural painted lines. And Rothko's early painting show a slow embracing of light.
Mark Rothko. No. 4, (Yellow, Black, Orange on Yellow, Untitled) 1953. Courtesy of The Royal Academy of Arts, London.
After this first introduction room, the fun began, with a room of Gorky paintings, then Pollock, De Kooning, and Still. Newman and Reinhardt sharing a big long room. Speckled amongst these greats were lesser known Abstract Expressionists, such as Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler, which were greats in their own right. Not only did their paintings hold their own, with the strength of the male painted canvases next to them, they also offered a unique voice to this exhibition.
Willem de Kooning. Pink Angels, 1945. Courtesy of The Royal Academy of Arts, London.
In each room I stood. I was challenged by the scale of the paintings, the emotion of the paintings, the physicality of the paintings and the images the paintings portrayed. An experience I soon will not forget. The Abstract Expressionists had an ability to convey emotions in a way that hits you straight in the face and heart all at once. All reflecting a time in history of overwhelming emotions brought on by the Great Depression, the two World Wars, and the Cold War. What their paintings did was challenge their own emotion about these times and helped themselves and the viewers of that time, come to terms with these incredible difficult emotions of the world around them. All while challenging the art world and what the art world would accept as art. Great art always comes from challenging what has gone before while always reflecting the world around you.
Franz Kline. Vawdavitch, 1955. Courtesy of The Royal Academy of Arts, London.