American abstraction, 1940-1960

2 July 1999 - 2 October 1999

Continuing its exploration of the major artistic movements and figures of the 20th century (Vieira da Silva, 1994; Jean Hugo, 1995, Claude Viallat, 1997; Gaston Chaissac, 1998...) the Pavillon du Musée Fabre is hosting an exhibition of American abstract painting.

This New York-based school is all too often known only through the work of its most celebrated exponents, Pollock, De Kooning or Rothko. American art as a whole is poorly represented in French public collections, and in the temporary exhibition programmes of many French museums. Its wide-ranging, diverse character is insufficiently appreciated or explored. The present exhibition – organised with the active collaboration of Serge Lemoine (professor of art history at the Sorbonne and curator-in-chief of the Musée de Grenoble) and his Paris students – aims to remedy this situation. The show traces the dazzling, turbulent history of post-war painting in America, with a selection of 40 works from major collections in Europe (Grenoble, Nantes, Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou - Musée National d'Art Moderne, Düsseldorf, Amsterdam..) and North America (Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum, New York; Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo; the Museum of Ottawa), plus significant contributions from private collectors and galleries (Robert Miller Gallery, New York; Joan T. Washburn Gallery, New York; The David Mirvish Gallery, Toronto). While major retrospectives of the work of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko draw huge crowds in New York, London, Washington and Paris, the organisers felt that it was especially important to allow space for the work of young American artists, active in the post-war years – a time when the New York school (for the first time in its history) overtook Europe as the beating heart of the modern art scene.