“The Abstract Expressionist movement is renowned for its male superstars, but it’s crucial to recognize the pioneering women of the genre as well. The ‘Heroines of the Abstract Expressionist Era’ exhibition proudly presents the remarkable works of artists like Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Perle Fine, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Alice Baber, Lynne Drexler, and more. Their art, which has long deserved recognition, is finally gaining the appreciation it deserves among contemporary audiences at the Southampton Arts Center from October 7th to December 17th.
“I am truly delighted that this last exhibition celebrating our 10th anniversary will feature a major exhibition of art created by legendary Woman artists from the Abstract Expressionist movement, a period in art forever linked to the East End. It allows us to celebrate our rich cultural heritage and introduce many artists to a new generation of visitors.” Notes Christina Strassfield, Executive Director.
They are also celebrating the contributions of women whose work, though not strictly abstract, is associated with the Abstract Expressionist era. These individuals were integral parts of the vibrant New York art scene. Among them are Mercedes Matter, Hedda Sterne, Jane Freilicher, and Jane Wilson. These works, by First and Second-generation Ab Ex Women artists, are drawn from the collection of Rick Freidman and Cindy Lou Wakefield.”
This exhibition features paintings, sculptures, and works on paper that are visually mesmerizing and technically complex. It offers the widest breadth of any private assemblage of this genre, featuring 100 works by 31 women artists. The artwork demonstrates how these artists pushed themselves in new directions as leaders and total participants in the Abstract Expressionist movement. The artists and their work were undervalued and overlooked for many years but have recently been revisited and re-evaluated, giving these artists their due.
Abstract Expressionism was the first specifically American style to achieve international influence, and, as a result, 1940s New York replaced Paris as the center of the art world. The style was characterized by experimental, gestural, and nonrepresentational painting, and for some artists associated with the movement, abstract art and blurring the lines between representational and abstraction expressed ideas concerning nature, the spiritual, and the mind. For others, it was a way to explore formal and technical concerns. This exhibition differs from other exhibitions by focusing on the 1950 New York School and the migration of many of these artists to the Hamptons.
For more than sixty years, these women’s contributions to the movement were forgotten, while works by men such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning have been canonized in the history of American art. It has taken the dedication of scholars and curators—and the commitment of a handful of visionary collectors like Rick Friedman and Cindy Lou Wakefield—to restore these women artists to their rightful place in the history of American art.