Works by many of the most important American and European artists from mid- to late-20th century on view May 24 through Oct. 5, 2014

PRINCETON, NJ—The years between 1950 and 1990 witnessed a critical period of experimentation that broadened the parameters of abstract art, one whose dramatic developments are rivaled only by the rise of abstraction in Western art during the first decades of the twentieth century. Featuring 27 paintings by some of the most significant American and European artists of the time, the exhibition Rothko to Richter: Mark-Making in Abstract Painting from the Haskell Collection, offers a window into the evolution of abstraction during the second half of the 20th century. The exhibition, curated by Kelly Baum, Haskell Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Princeton University Art Museum, will be on view at the Museum from May 24 through Oct. 5, 2014.

       Among the legendary artists in the exhibition are Josef Albers, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Jean Dubuffet, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Morris Louis, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko and Frank Stella. The works are on loan from the collection of Preston H. Haskell III, Princeton class of 1960, a longstanding Museum benefactor and former chair of its Advisory Council.

       “Through this extraordinary gathering of paintings, the Museum is able to tell an important story about the shifting priorities of abstract art and the evolution of mark-making over time, and to do so through works that are simply visually stunning,” said Princeton University Art Museum Director James Steward. “I am so grateful to Preston and Joan Haskell for making these masterworks of abstraction available to our students and to all our visitors and for allowing us to craft the first scholarly catalogue of their collection.”

       The exhibition is bookended by two untitled, richly colored works by Mark Rothko (1968) and Gerhard Richter (1986), which together with two paintings by Hans Hofmann (1952) and Jack Goldstein (1985) demonstrate how abstract art changed over the course of the mid- to late 20th century. The earlier works reflect the artists’ values of authenticity and self-expression while the later works, operating in an increasingly irreverent and ironic era of media saturation, openly question notions of artistic authorship and make a break with Abstract Expressionism. But what united the painters throughout this period was a commitment to process, even as the artists in question explored a range of brushwork techniques, from audacious gestural ribbons of built-up paint to vibrating fields and soft washes of color to flat, hard-edged geometries. The results alternately emphasized or suppressed traces of the artist’s hand.


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       Rothko to Richter will be shown exclusively at the Princeton University Art Museum and will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with a lead essay by Baum.

       Rothko to Richter: Mark-Making in Abstract Painting from the Haskell Collection has been made possible by generous support from Susan and John Diekman, Class of 1965; the Bagley Wright, Class of 1946, Contemporary Art Fund; the Virginia and Bagley Wright, Class of 1946, Program Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Exhibitions Fund; and the Judith and Anthony B. Evnin, Class of 1962, Exhibitions Fund. Additional support has been provided by the Partners and Friends of the Princeton University Art Museum.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...