Artists included in this exhibition: Beauford Delaney, Leon Golub, Red Grooms, Lester Johnson, Jan Müller, and Bob Thompson
Out of the Fifties – Into the Sixties: 6 Figurative Expressionists includes twenty major paintings by Beauford Delaney, Leon Golub, Red Grooms, Lester Johnson, Jan Müller and Bob Thompson. During the 1950s, a trend towards figurative expressionism emerged in reaction to the rise and dominance of abstract expressionism. This exhibition explores six artists who rejected pure abstraction and embraced the figure as their primary vehicle of expression.
In the 1950s, critic Clement Greenberg and his followers believed that abstraction transcended figuration and to work with representational imagery was old-fashioned and ultimately, ineffective. However, for the six artists included in this exhibition the figure was still an evocative form or symbol to explore and they believed that abstraction and figuration need not be mutually exclusive. Rather, these artists combined the two, creating provocative figurative paintings with expressive, gestural brushstrokes. Jan Müller succinctly stated in 1954: “Abstraction is no longer enough for me. So, I’m returning to the image - the image gives one a wider sense of communication.” This sentiment was a motivation shared by all the artists included in Out of the Fifties – Into the Sixties.