Perle Fine

Perle Fine News: Hyperallergic | The Biggest Lie About Abstract Expressionism, July 11, 2022 - Max Lunn for Hyperallergic

Hyperallergic | The Biggest Lie About Abstract Expressionism

July 11, 2022 - Max Lunn for Hyperallergic

The Biggest Lie About Abstract Expressionism
Max Lunn
July 11, 2022

We were told that women were on the peripheries of the artistic movement, while in fact they were driving it forward, energetically engaging in this radical pictorial language.

Abstract Expressionism is a storied movement continually re-told at blockbuster museums: We think we know it so well. The story, however, is still wrong. There are no women in it. The most recent show in the United Kingdom was at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2017. The exhibition projected an outdated image of the swaggering machismo the movement has come to be known for. Lee Krasner was the only woman exhibited. 

More recently, a bold exhibition at Huxley-Parlour Gallery in London entitled Women and the Void, hoped to correct this. It showed works from some of the better-known and under-appreciated women artists, including Jay Defoe, Mary Abbott, and Michael West.

Now is the time to examine this exclusion, given the work done by writers like Mary Gabriel to understand these artists; her 2018 book Ninth Street Women chronicled their art and lives.

There has been no major group show of women Abstract Expressionists in the UK, and only one elsewhere at the Denver Art Museum. Huxley Parlour’s exhibition demonstrated that women were not only present, but central, to the movement’s origins. By focusing on works on paper and including work from beyond the bigger names, the show affirmed the polyvalent output women have made — take Anne Ryan’s layered 1951 collage. Other highlights included striking work by Perle Fine and Alma Thomas, the latter of whose inclusion evidences another major absence: Black artists.

Both the 2019 Barbican Centre retrospective of Lee Krasner’s work and Dulwich Picture Gallery’s exhibition of Helen Frankenthaler’s printmaking career are further indicators of interest, as is the current Joan Mitchell retrospective currently at the Baltimore Museum of Art

These three women, however, are exceptions and still not valued to the extent their male equivalents are. Although a crude metric, the auction market gives some idea: Rothko’s record stands at $86.9 million, whilst leading the women is Lee Krasner at $11.7 million

Institutional recognition at a group level is arguably little better: The Whitney Museum’s recent show Labyrinth of Forms: Women and Abstraction is indicative of museums’ willingness to invest in these women. Or rather, lack of willingness: The exhibition was criticized for its small footprint and handful of works, despite the museum’s extensive archive holdings. This speaks of a wider tension between museum-as-artist-champion and museum-as-business. 

This exclusion matters because it is a lie. Women weren’t working on the peripheries, they were driving the movement forward, energetically engaging in this radical pictorial language.

Before Abstract Expressionism was cast as the familiar macho movement in the mid-1950s — guided by the vernacular of critics such as Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg — a democratic spirit pervaded US abstraction. This was in part due to the withering attitude taken towards abstract art which meant artists were not competing, but collaborating. 

Out of this spirit, the collaborative organizations American Abstract Artists (AAA) and Atelier 17 emerged to champion abstraction, the latter with a focus on works on paper. A notable 40% of Atelier 17 members were women. Members included artists who became associated with Abstract Expressionism: Perle Fine, Jackson Pollock, and Willem De Kooning. Abstraction crucially offered women aesthetic liberty: Perle Fine commented it allowed her to escape from the “oppressive particularities” of realism. 

This is not to say it was all plain sailing. Some women artists changed their names to avoid bias: “Dorris” to “Dorr” Bothwell, and the oft-recounted comments from Hans Hofmann that Elaine de Kooning and Lee Krasner’s work being “so good that you would not know it was done by a woman” speak volumes. 

While factors such as the male-only requirement for “the club” — the East 8th Street spot in Manhattan where artists met — played a role, art historians have generally pinpointed the rise of the abstract art market as being the moment women were pushed out. As Mary Gabriel puts it: “When art became a ‘business’ in the turbocharged consumer economy of the late 1950s, work by women artists wasn’t considered as valuable … which meant dealers didn’t show it, collectors didn’t buy it, and art history courses failed to mention it.” The previous plurality of styles was replaced by a handful of male “masters,” befitting of the Cold War politics of the day. 

But we know these women were there: The now-famous 1951 Ninth Street Show, considered the debut of Abstract Expressionism, had three women on its committee: Fine, Mitchell, and Elaine de Kooning. Why are museums such as the Royal Academy still getting it wrong?

There are tedious reasons such as the need to guarantee ticket sales. But there are also relevant ideas about artistic value. The Denver exhibition and the Frankenthaler exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery argue that these women deserve attention because they were innovators: Jane Findlay, curator of the Dulwich exhibition, said she put innovation “front and centre.”

Huxley-Parlour hosted a panel talk, where the Barbican curator Eleanor Nairne questioned why so much emphasis is placed on innovation as a metric when valuing artists, and if this helps achieves parity. She commented it’s inherently market-driven: “If someone has a singular style, then they are uniquely identifiable for their imagery, and so we feel more comfortable championing them as a ‘master’”. She explained society has been more lenient allowing male artists to cycle through different styles before landing on a single identifiable one: Think of Rothko, whose biomorphs are seen as the preamble to his signature multiforms. 

Nairne broadened out the idea, considered innovation in conjunction with Hilma af Klint, who she says was only canonized because she created abstract work a year before Kandinsky — what would have happened if it was the next year? Maybe, therefore, we shouldn’t ask what these women were doing “differently,” but simply what they were doing. 

The scholarship has been tirelessly corrected, the books have been re-written: It’s clear that women were front and center of Abstract Expressionism. But the power of a simple narrative of a few great men still stands in the way of experiencing the richness of mid-century abstraction. It’s time to flesh the story out.



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Perle Fine News: ARTSEEN | Perle Fine: A Retrospective, July  7, 2022 - Tennae Maki for the Brooklyn Rail

ARTSEEN | Perle Fine: A Retrospective

July 7, 2022 - Tennae Maki for the Brooklyn Rail

Gazelli Gallery, London
Tennae Maki for The Brooklyn Rail
 
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Perle Fine News: In Conversation | Perle Fine: A Retrospective, Gazelli Art House, London, June 14, 2022 - Gazelli Art House

In Conversation | Perle Fine: A Retrospective, Gazelli Art House, London

June 14, 2022 - Gazelli Art House

In Conversation with Daniel Zamani and Jennifer Higgie
Perle Fine: A Retrospective | Rediscovery of Perle Fine
Gazelli Art House

Tuesday, July 21, 2022
6 - 8 pm (BST)
Register

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Perle Fine News: Artsy Viewing Room | Berry Campbell at Intersect Aspen: Women of Abstract Expressionism , July 21, 2021 - Artsy

Artsy Viewing Room | Berry Campbell at Intersect Aspen: Women of Abstract Expressionism

July 21, 2021 - Artsy

Berry Campbell at Intersect Aspen:
Women of Abstract Expressionism
Booth A15

Visit Viewing Room

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Perle Fine News: Perle Fine | Small Abstractions: Highlights from Sheldon’s Permanent Collection | Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 20, 2020

Perle Fine | Small Abstractions: Highlights from Sheldon’s Permanent Collection | Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, Nebraska

October 20, 2020

Spinning Figure, 1949
Oil on canvas
42 3/4 × 13 7/8 inches
Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Anna R. and Frank M. Hall Charitable Trust

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Perle Fine News: Berry Campbell Celebrates Women's History Month, March 30, 2020 - Berry Campbell

Berry Campbell Celebrates Women's History Month

March 30, 2020 - Berry Campbell

Berry Campbell Celebrates Women's History Month

Ida Kohlmeyer
VIDEO: Virtual Exhibition Walkthrough

Women of Abstract Expressionism
 
Inventory Highlights
View Exhibition

Ann Purcell
Upcoming Exhibition: Kali Poems
View Works by Ann Purcell

Judith Godwin
Forbes Magazine: Add to Your list of '5 Women Artists' at These Museums Around The United States
by Chadd Scott

Charlotte Park
Client Testimonial: 
"Extremely gratifying to see Paul Kasmin Gallery's eye-opening summer show, Painters of the East End reviewed by Erin Kimmel in this month's Art in America . And smiled extra wide that AbEx talent Charlotte Park is written up in the same paragraph as — and holds her own with— Joan Mitchell. 'Park's virtuosic oil and crayon compositions (ca. 1965 and 1967) feature dendrite-like configurations in a palette of bright pinks, yellows and blues that appear frozen mid twist.' Ten years ago Christine Berry, owner of one of the most engaging and provocative galleries in Chelsea, Berry Campbell, thankfully introduced me to the work of Charlotte Park, who died in 2010 at age 92 in Montauk, where she lived and painted. She was the wife of artist James Brooks, supporting his career at the expense of her own, and dear friends and neighbors of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner." 
-Adam Beckerman
View Works by Charlotte Park 

Yvonne Thomas
Eazel Interactive Exhibition | Yvonne Thomas: Windows and Variations (1963-1965) 

Susan Vecsey
blue. 
Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, New York
View Works by Susan Vecsey

Jill Nathanson
LINEA: Studio Notes from the Art Students League of New York
Artist Snapshot: Jill Nathanson 

Perle Fine
What We See, How We See
Through April 2021
Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York
View Works by Perle Fine

Joyce Weinstein
Postwar Women
Curated by William Corwin
The Art Students League, New York
View Works by Joyce Weinstein

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Perle Fine News: Parrish Art Museum | TALK: THE CURATOR’S VIEW: Alicia Longwell on Women Artists in What We See, How We See, February 25, 2020 - Parrish Art Museum

Parrish Art Museum | TALK: THE CURATOR’S VIEW: Alicia Longwell on Women Artists in What We See, How We See

February 25, 2020 - Parrish Art Museum

TALK: THE CURATOR’S VIEW

Alicia Longwell on Women Artists in What We See, How We See 
February 28, 6 pm - 7:30 pm

Alicia Longwell, the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator, Art and Education, highlights women artists in this seven-part exhibition that contextualizes the artists’ work through the lens of how they see and interpret the world around them.

VENUE
Parrish Art Museum
279 Montauk Highway, Water Mill, NY 11976 United States 

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Perle Fine News: Perle Fine: The Accordment Series featured on Artsy, February 18, 2020 - Artsy

Perle Fine: The Accordment Series featured on Artsy

February 18, 2020 - Artsy

Perle Fine | The Accordment Series 
February 13 - March 14, 2020

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