During the 20th century, many abstract painters challenged traditional ideas of art making. Some abandoned the paintbrush in favor of the palette knife, while others soaked canvases in diluted paint. Certain artists experimented by transforming their two-dimensional abstract paintings into three-dimensional sculptures. Cut: Abstraction in the United States, from the 1970s to the Present explores a multigenerational group of artists who challenged painting surfaces with cuts, carvings, and indentions. For some this gesture has been politically motivated; for others, it represents a bold and dynamic investigation into materiality.
“I cut paint, I laminate paint, I grind paint, I freeze paint, I boil paint.”Jack Whitten
Cut: Abstraction in the United States, from the 1970s to the Present includes work by canonical artists such as Al Loving, Elizabeth Murray, and Jack Whitten, juxtaposed with work made by a younger generation, including Loriel Beltrán, Alejandro Contreras, Roberto Jamora, and Clara Varas. By presenting different generations, a historical arc of manipulated abstraction may be seen and evaluated.
This exhibition brings to the fore the fundamental role abstraction has played in elevating American art to an international stage while pushing traditional interpretations of what it means to be “American.” For example, both Loriel Beltrán and Alejandro Contreras came to the U.S. from Venezuela as teenagers. While Beltrán acknowledges the strong impact of abstraction from his birth country by artists like Carlos Cruz Diez, he also affirms the influence of Jack Whitten. Whitten, an American icon is also a creative touchstone for Clara Varas, a Miami-based artist featured in the exhibition. Other artists in the exhibition include Mark Bradford, Jeffrey Gibson, Angel Otero, Howardena Pindell, Jacin Giordano, and María de los Angeles Rodríguez Jiménez.