Image: Sam Gilliam, American, 1933–2022. Alphabet I, II, and III, 1968. Acrylic on canvas, 70 x 90 inches. Collection of The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia. Gift of Janice and Henry Peskin, 2022.13.1.a-c. © 2023 Sam Gilliam / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Pour, drip, splash, stain, spray, soak, splatter—these words are often used to describe abstract artists’ experimental application of paint. The creative process of many abstract painters is highly visible in their finished artworks. Vigorous brushstrokes, saturated canvases, and atmospheric surfaces all demonstrate the expansive use of the medium. For over 100 years, abstraction has reigned as a major expressive form in painting with continuously changing techniques and styles. Abstract paintings are frequently interpreted according to their visual components, but their socio-political contexts are also vital for understanding.
This exhibition features large-scale abstract paintings from the museum’s collection spanning the mid-1950s to the late 2000s by Gene Davis, Sam Francis, Sam Gilliam, Sheila Isham, Suzanne McClelland, Joan Mitchell, Larry Poons, and Hedda Sterne. While not unified through a particular artistic movement or chronology, each artwork demonstrates the vast potential of paint.
Curated by Laura Minton, she/her, Curator of Exhibitions and
Matthew McLendon, he/him, former J. Sanford Miller Family Director
This exhibition is made possible through support from The Fralin Museum of Art Volunteer Board. The Fralin Museum of Art’s programming is generously supported by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. Thanks to our in-kind donors: WTJU 91.1 FM and Ivy Publications LLC’s Charlottesville Welcome Book.