CSU, Chico News

Turner Print Museum Gallery to Present Abstract Expressionism Exhibit Jan. 28-Feb. 24

Date: 01-17-2013

Joe DiMaggio, publicist
College of Humanities and Fine Arts
Catherine Sullivan, curator
Janet Turner Print Museum

The Janet Turner Print Museum’s first exhibition of the new year, “American International: Abstract Expressionism,” will be a visual compilation of print artists’ internal musings and reflections.

The exhibition takes place Jan. 28 through Feb. 24 at The Turner, located in the Meriam Library at CSU, Chico. A reception/curator’s talk is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 31; the reception begins at 5:30 p.m. and is followed by the talk at 6 p.m.

For “American International: Abstract Expressionism,” Turner Print Museum curator Catherine Sullivan collaborated with CSU, Chico graduate intern students Trinity Connelley, Adria Davis and Willow Starkey, and undergraduate student Maura Cavanaugh. Together they chose works from The Turner’s 3,500-plus print collection that demonstrate the far-reaching influence of abstract expressionism, a distinctive American art movement.

According to Oxford University Press, abstract expressionism is a term applied to an art movement in the United States that flourished in the 1940s and 1950s. The works of this movement’s artists ranged from Barnett Newman’s unbroken fields of color to Willem de Kooning’s violent handling of the figure. Abstract expressionism works had in common the usage of varying degrees of abstraction to convey strong emotional or expressive content.

Although the term primarily denotes a small nucleus of New York painters, abstract expressionist qualities can also be seen in the works of printmakers, sculptors and photographers from that time period.

For this exhibition, The Turner will be displaying works by the movement’s most prominent printmakers — Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson and Max Ernst. Augmenting the exhibit will be works by local artists Claudia Steel, Jean Souders and the late Ken Morrow; prints by these artists were selected to show the far-reaching influence of this East Coast-based art movement.

“Abstract expressionism was a uniquely American response that was European influenced,” Sullivan said. “It opened the doors for a personal expression that comes from an artist’s internal reflections rather than portraying a representation of the external world.”

Print mediums represented in the exhibition include lithographs, etchings, serigraphs (screen prints) and woodcuts.

Sullivan said The Turner decided to present American Expressionism as it reflects a similar exhibition currently taking place at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

This exhibition was enhanced by CSU, Chico professor Laura Nice’s curriculum on Modernism.

“These factors led us to create an exhibition with an interpretation of modernism that would impart, hopefully, an understanding of the American departure into abstract expressionism,” Sullivan said.

Because abstract expressionism also has roots in other European art movements, such as surrealism, cubism and dada, The Turner’s exhibition incorporates works from these movements as well.

Part of The Turner’s mission is to be an educational resource for Chico State’s Department of Art and Art History, Sullivan said. The student curators not only participated in the selection process, they also researched the era and artists for the curatorial statements that accompany the exhibition.

“Curating an exhibition is much the same as writing a good paper,” Sullivan said. “It has a point of view, an organizational structure and presents a conclusion. Curation is an educational passage reflecting an understanding and appreciation of expanding visual awareness of the times, the artists and their effect on society. When this process is demonstrated in a visual manner, the viewer can take the journey by ‘reading’ the image as a linear construct or individually in random order as the print appeals to them.”

A select number of prints from The Turner collection that expand on the “American International: Abstract Expressionism” exhibition at the museum gallery will also be displayed in the Ayres Hall first floor cases on the CSU, Chico campus.

The Turner is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday during exhibition dates. Tours and other viewing hours can be arranged by calling 530-898-4476 or by contacting Sullivan by email at csullivan@csuchico.edu. School tours can also be arranged through The Turner’s website: www.theturner.org.