24 September 2016 — 2 January 2017
"...from the sublime to the revelatory"
“...the most pleasurable, provocative exhibition of American art in this country this century”
The Financial Times
Exploring an unparalleled period in American art, this long-awaited exhibition reveals the full breadth of a movement that will forever be associated with the boundless creative energy of 1950s New York.
In the “age of anxiety” surrounding the Second World War and the years of free jazz and Beat poetry, artists like Pollock, Rothko and de Kooning broke from accepted conventions to unleash a new confidence in painting.
Often monumental in scale, their works are at times intense, spontaneous and deeply expressive. At others they are more contemplative, presenting large fields of colour that border on the sublime. These radical creations redefined the nature of painting, and were intended not simply to be admired from a distance but as two-way encounters between artist and viewer.
It was a watershed moment in the evolution of 20th-century art, yet, remarkably, there has been no major survey of the movement since 1959.
This autumn we bring together some of the most celebrated art of the past century, offering the chance to experience the powerful collective impact of Pollock, Rothko, Still, de Kooning, Newman, Kline, Smith, Guston and Gorky as their works dominate our galleries with their scale and vitality.
We also acknowledge the lesser-known figures who contributed to the development of the movement. Finally, we include photography and sculpture to complete an ambitious re-evaluation of the phenomenon that saw New York take over from Paris as the capital of the art world.
The exhibition is co-curated by the independent art historian Dr David Anfam and Edith Devaney, Contemporary Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts.
Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London with the collaboration of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Abstract Expressionism is at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao from February 3 – June 4, 2017.
24 September 2016 — 2 January 2017
Saturday – Thursday 10am – 6pm
Friday 10am – 10pm
Main Galleries, Burlington House
£17 (£19 with donation). Concessions available. Friends of the RA and under 16s go free. Tickets include a multimedia guide and both Friends of the RA and their family guest will receive one for free.
Tickets include a multimedia guide
Get more out of your visit
A self-guided multimedia tour is free for Friends and their guests, and included with full price and concession tickets.*
Hear about key works from curators and practicing contemporary artists and listen to a piece of music composed for the Rothko Chapel. The guide will also showcase rare photographs offering insights into the artists’ techniques and working methods.
*Excluding Corporates and School Groups who can purchase guides at a reduced rate of £2.
Jazz FM playlist
The RA has partnered with Jazz FM to create a playlist of music inspired by Abstract Expressionism. The principal of improvisation was central to the Abstract Expressionists’ approach to making art. Because of this, a comparison has often been made with jazz, which reached its most experimental phase at about the same time as Abstract Expressionism.
As in paintings by Joan Mitchell, Sam Francis, Lee Krasner and Helen Frankenthaler, jazz moved between the spontaneous and the controlled, the apparently random with the melodic and ordered. Not all the Abstract Expressionists had an interest in music, but there are certainly parallels between the two art forms.
Christmas at the RA
Save £5 on combined exhibition tickets
Cosy up in the Keeper’s House, hunt for art-inspired gifts, or enjoy a family outing to the Sunday Times’s “show of the year”. Over the Christmas break between 24 December and 2 January, we’re even offering £5 off combined tickets to Abstract Expressionism and Intrigue.