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Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976

Patrick Willett

Some of the most treasured works in the
Albright Knox Art Gallery’s permanent collection are finally returning
home.  These stellar works have had
their day on the national stage as part of the Abstract/Action show now on view
at the Albright Knox. These paintings belong to Buffalo today due to the
insight of Seymour H. Knox Jr. and the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, which became
the Albright Knox as we know it.

I’ve thought of the Albright Knox as a
sanctuary from my earliest days. I can remember being absolutely taken in by
certain works as a child, only to find out much later in life their significance and that of the permanent collection as a whole. It seems the most
important work by many of the giants of modern art were snapped up early on by
our gallery, as if by divine reckoning.

One such work is Jackson Pollock’s “Convergence” (above).
I have always been fascinated with the energy inherent in the painting and the
process of how it was painted. To this day, I can’t focus on this masterpiece
without first locating the matchstick stuck in the paint; it adds a human touch
to an almost otherworldly piece of art.

can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “I don’t like modern art”
as if talking about a restaurant or a bad CD. As with anything worthwhile in
this world, certainly there is something within the “modern art” genre that
would both attract and surprise anyone. If you haven’t been to the gallery for
a while, this is a perfect time to get re-acquainted with one of the premier
art institutions in North America.


                    Arshile Gorky, The Liver Is the Cock’s Comb, 1944, oil on canvas.  

Abstract Expressionism, action painting and all the other
terms, movements and “isms” have an almost unnerving effect on the newbie
viewer. The intimidation factor of modern art is real but unwarranted. The work
that most appeals to me is art that needs no explanation, but stands on its
own. Upon exploration, the era and movement in which it was produced and the
struggles of the artist have great appeal, but are just icing on the cake.

Works by de Kooning, Rothko, Gorky and
possibly my favorite, Clyfford Still, have been part of my visual experience as
long as I can remember. I somehow thought they were mine, which they are in a
way, but also of major importance to the art world at large.

This show and the recognition that it brings
points out just a small part of the world class assets right under our noses.
We possess great riches in this town.

The Albright Knox, the new Burchfield Penny,
our magnificent architecture and Olmsted park system, are all evidence that
Buffalo is fast becoming recognized as the cultural gem that it is.

The show “Action Abstraction” currently on
view at the Albright Knox, is built upon some of the essential works of the
Albright Knox’s permanent collection, including Jackson Pollock’s Convergence,
and Willem de Kooning’s Gotham
City News.

The exhibition was organized by The
Jewish Museum, New York in collaboration with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery,
Buffalo and the Saint Louis Art Museum.

The gallery is open every day except Monday
and free on Fridays from 3 to 10PM as part of the Gusto at the Gallery series
of events. Action/Abstraction is on view through June 10th.

 Albright-Knox Art Gallery

 February 13 – June 10, 2009

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

View All Articles by WCPerspective
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