Action, Gesture, Paint
Women Artists and Global Abstraction 1940-1970
With an international exhibition cooperation, Kunsthalle Bielefeld presents an extensive global show that, for the first time in Europe, focuses on the work of female artists and their role in the development of abstraction after 1945. The movement we now describe as “Abstract Expressionism” officially began in the mid-20th century in the United States. But around the world, artists* explored parallel approaches to abstraction through materiality, expressivity, and gesture, from Informel to Arte Povera, from calligraphic abstraction and Gutai in East Asia to experimental, deeply political practices in Central and South America, North Africa, and the Middle East. Following the avant-garde movements of Expressionism and Surrealism, these artists* completely redefined creative practice as an immersive arena for action, process, and consciousness. Their paintings were seen not as images but as events, and evolved into catalysts for ideas in aesthetics, poetry, philosophy, and politics. Despite their essential role in the development of abstraction, the contribution of female artists in particular has been insufficiently acknowledged by art history. In addition to works by well-known names such as Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, and Lee Krasner, the exhibition also presents positions from the global South and East that have so far been less well-known in the West.
The exhibition is produced in cooperation with the Whitechapel Gallery, London and the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles.