Geometric Abstraction and Post-Painterly Abstraction are two closely related art movements that evolved from America’s defining contribution to the art world of the 20th century; Abstract Expressionism (example below). While Abstract Expressionism embodied the emotional and spontaneous human spirit, deploying thick, tangled, unpredictable compositions with distinct brushstrokes and splatters; Geometric Abstraction and Post-Painterly Abstraction, in particular, replaced these recognizably human elements with clarity, structure, and often an attempt to capture a sense of purity.
From a historical standpoint, Post-Painterly Abstraction establishes an important bridge between the wild, unruly world of Abstract Expressionism and the sleek, silent, colossal nature of early Minimalism. The term Post-Painterly Abstraction was first used in 1964 by the art critic Clement Greenberg to accompany an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art by the same name. This new form of abstraction reacted to what some saw as the formulaic demise of Abstract Expressionism. All that was once fresh, challenging, and unrestrained within Abstract Expressionism in the 1940s had become so mainstream and ordinary by the early 1960s that it had begun to lose its impact. A new generation of artists responded by creating work that avoided all noticeably human elements, working solely with shape and color.
Infinity Mirror: Geometric and Post-Painterly Abstraction features 19 works from Rockford Art Museum’s permanent collection, including works by two progenitors of the movement; Gene Davis and Frank Stella. In addition to featuring two of the founders of this style, this exhibition reveals a continuing lineage of artists who were inspired by the first generation of Post-Painterly Abstractionists, and have continued to develop this distinctive style. Known for their flatness, simplicity, and precision, these works invite space for reflection and contemplation, as well as offering viewers a window into Abstraction’s most stoic and vivid interpretation.