Monday, July 12, 2021

Affinities for Abstraction: Women Artists on Eastern Long Island,1950-2020


"Affinities for Abstraction" at the Parrish

“Affinities For Abstraction: Women Artists on Eastern Long Island, 1950-2020” at the Parrish deals with five "seminal" female abstractionist painters Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler who lived and worked on the East End of Long Island and 35 other female artists whose who also lived, worked or visited in the same area at one time or another. Any discussion about the Eastern End of Long Island and artistic personalities would probably have to deal with the "anxiety of affluence" as well as the "anxiety of influence"--due to the enormous changes that have affected the area in the period  the show examines. The exhibit naturally comprises the work of many legendary artists with large personalities, but sometimes it's the strategies employed by a less known artist that are notable. For instance Sue Williams' “Irritated  Weave” (2001) is filled with sqiggles that resembles the styrofoam floats children use in pools. Here is what the artist says, “I like to think my lines just float, and if I could, eliminate the backgrounds." She also remarks “Having a plan is great, but when you stop having a plan something good can happen, too.” The show delineates the risk-taking and ambitious use of canvas and paint characteristic of a Frankenthaler, but one of the pleasures are the small subtle moments and gestures which illustrate the way each individual artist approaches the challenge of abstraction. Perhaps Joan Mitchell said it best in an earlier era, “The freedom in my work is quite controlled.”

Read "The Seven Ages of One Man" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star



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