Athens, Ga. – The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia will show the work of well-known abstract expressionist artists in the exhibition “Advanced and Irascible: Abstract Expressionism from the Collection of Jeanne and Carroll Berry,” on view Jan. 14 to April 30.
The exhibition, organized by the museum’s curator of American art Sarah Kate Gillespie, showcases Jeanne and Carroll Berry’s efforts to gather one work by each of the so-called “Irascible” painters of abstract expressionism. The Irascibles earned their nickname after sending a signed, open letter to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to protest the lack of what they called “advanced” art in its exhibition of contemporary artists in 1950. A photograph of them that appeared in Life magazine in 1951 became the defining image of the abstract expressionists for the remainder of the 20th century.
In their letter, the artists wrote, “For roughly a hundred years, only advanced art has made any consequential contribution to civilization.” This collection of works embodies what they thought of as contributing to the advancement of art.
“Advanced and Irascible” includes 19 works by 18 artists, all borrowed from the Berrys’ collection. Artists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, Willem de Kooning, Hedda Sterne and Ad Reinhardt are represented. Characterized by large, gestural paintings, this group of painters defined the abstract expressionist movement and influenced the trajectory of modern art. This exhibition includes mostly smaller works, many of which are on paper, as well as a charcoal drawing by Armenian artist Arshile Gorky, who was not a member of the Irascibles but was a strong influence on the group.
Gillespie will also teach a split-level undergraduate and graduate art history course on abstract expressionism at the Lamar Dodd School of Art this spring semester. The class will make heavy use of both “Advanced and Irascible” and its companion exhibition, “Artists of the New York School,” allowing students to study original works of art in person, rather than reproduced in a textbook.
Related events include:
• A film series beginning Jan. 26.
• A gallery discussion with associate curator of education Callan Steinmann on Feb. 8 at 2 p.m.
• 90 Carlton: Winter, the museum’s quarterly reception ($5, free for members) on Feb. 10 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
• Family Day focused on abstract valentines on Feb. 11 from 10 a.m. to noon; and a public tour with Gillespie Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise indicated.
Partial support for the exhibition and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The council is a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the University of Georgia Foundation. The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on UGA’s East Campus. The address is 90 Carlton St., Athens, Ga., 30602-1502. For more information, including hours, see georgiamuseum.org or call 706-542-4662.