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Abstraction, Part 2

On View Tuesday, November 12, 2002–Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Abstraction: Works from the Collection, Part 2 was the second exhibition organized by the Burchfield Penney Art Center with M&T Bank for presentation in the atrium gallery of the M&T Center at One Fountain Plaza. Both exhibitions used works from the Burchfield Penney’s collection to illustrate developments in twentieth-century abstraction by artists who have been affiliated with Western New York. The first exhibition concentrated on works from the 1950s up to the early 1980s, with examples of both organic and geometric abstraction. Some of the paintings have been considered “second generation Abstract Expressionism,” as they were clearly influenced by the psychological and gestural works of Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock, three great American artists who changed the course of painting internationally.

The majority of works in Abstraction, Part 2, were created in the 1980s and 1990s, reflecting for the most part a greater flamboyance that paralleled changes in world events, the influence of popular culture, self-reflective and personalized iconography, and greater experimentation with non-traditional materials. The work reflects its time, when artists turned from highly intellectualized minimalism—which was comprehended by a small, but informed audience—toward work that seeks to communicate ideas about life’s experiences. This is not to say that art of this period isn’t conceptually rich, as some of it references twentieth-century art and cleverly reworks ideas through the Post-Modern perspective, fully cognizant of a debt paid to history.

For this exhibition, many artists were represented by more than one work. Robert Flock’s bold, sweeping brushwork in his large canvas, Work, could be compared to his frenetic drawings composed of oil stick, graphite and pastel. Charles Clough capitalized on a primal art-making process—finger-painting—as well as collage, in his freeform, figurative works that reject the traditional squares and rectangles of typical canvases. Katrin Jurati’s welded sculptures of spare parts are humorously covered in brilliantly hued enamel and oil paints. A similar palette was used in her painting on a blanket and wood. Yoonsook Ryang’s monotypes reflect an imaginary space in one-of-a-kind prints.

Among patrons who donated art featured in this exhibition were Steven and Cecile Biltekoff, Mr. and Mrs. Armand J. Castellani, Charles Rand Penney, and Mr. and Mrs. Dean Stathacos. Several works were purchased with funds donated by M&T Bank as part of a collection development initiative during the late 1980s and 1990s. There are also works acquired with funds donated by members of the Burchfield Penney’s Collectors’ Club. Through M&T Bank’s sponsorship, satellite exhibitions share the Burchfield Penney’s collection with the downtown Buffalo audience.