American Painting 1959–2009

July 23 – November 28, 2010

Location TBA

THIS EXHIBITION IS NO LONGER ON VIEW AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY.

Overview: Now on view in the East Building's Upper Level northeast galleries, American Painting 1959–2009 includes a broad array of work from the past 50 years. Drawn from the Gallery's permanent collection, this installation offers a deliberate counterpoint to the exhibition previously on view in the same galleries, The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection: Selected Works (October 1, 2009–May 2, 2010).

None of the postwar American painters who dominated the Meyerhoff exhibition—Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Robert Rauschenberg, and Frank Stella—can be found in American Painting 1959-2009. Instead, this presentation focuses on abstract paintings by artists such as Lee Bontecou, Sam Gilliam, Lee Krasner, Morris Louis, Robert Mangold, Joan Mitchell, Tony Smith, and Cy Twombly as well as figurative works by Milton Avery, Philip Guston, Barkley Leonnard Hendricks, Jess, Alex Katz, Jacob Lawrence, Richard Lindner, Arnold Mesches, Georgia O'Keeffe, Susan Rothenberg, and Bob Thompson, among others.

If the Meyerhoff holdings, which are being donated to the Gallery, offered a look at the future of the museum's collection, this installation surveys its recent and not-so-recent past. Some works are being shown for the first time in years. Also featured are several recent purchases by the Collectors Committee, including Katz's Swamp Maple (4:30), Bontecou's Untitled, and Twombly's Untitled (Bolsena), along with a number of important new gifts, including Thomas Chimes's Messenger (from Gene and Sueyun Locks), Sean Scully's All There Is (from William Zachs), Scully's ONEONEZERONINE RED (from Alan and Ellen Meckler), David Reed's #421 (from Herbert and Dorothy Vogel), and Edda Renouf's Random Overtone Piece (also donated by the Vogels).

The result is a celebration of diversity. Surprising juxtapositions—of works by Katz and Louis, Bontecou and Guston, Avery and O'Keeffe—are meant to stimulate fresh perceptions. Visitors are encouraged to consider the variety of ways that Americans have painted in the past half-century, from Krasner's spattering to Gilliam's draping to Twombly's scribbling. An equally great multitude of techniques and approaches is apparent among those who have continued to paint the figure or landscape. The emphasis on diversity also means the inclusion of many artists who are women or African American, groups often underrepresented on the Gallery's walls.

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art.

Image: Sam Gilliam, Relative, 1969, acrylic on canvas, Anonymous Gift, 1994.39.1