After the first abstract painting was created more than one hundred years ago, many believed that traditional artistic genres would be abandoned. Such fears were amplified during the postwar period with the rise of gestural abstraction and color field painting, when numerous artists were more concerned with pursuing pure opticality and medium specificity than with depicting subjects rooted more directly in reality. Yet ultimately, such fears proved to be unfounded as artists continued to make reference to the visual world, creating work that featured representations of people, places, and things—categories known more academically as portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. Such classifications, however, expanded to accommodate the significant role of photography and film, the influence of psychoanalysis, the trauma of multiple wars, the impact of commercial culture, the role of abstraction, and an increasingly diverse group of artistic voices.
With approaches ranging from Cubism and Surrealism to Pop and Photo-Realism on view, Curator's Choice shows the myriad ways modern and contemporary artists engaged such themes and, by extension, expanded the visible world. Drawn from UVaM's collection, the exhibition will feature work by artists such as Arman, Eugène Atget, Joseph Cornell, Christo, Lyonel Feininger, Nancy Graves, Philip Guston, Robert Indiana, Alex Katz, Franz Kline, Sally Mann, Malcolm Morley, Pablo Picasso, Dieter Roth, Jean Tinguely, Paul Thek, and Andy Warhol.