Curated by the Gund Associates (interns), Beyond The Club: Re-historicizing Women in Abstract Expressionism celebrates the work of women in the development of Abstract Expressionism’s New York and San Francisco schools. Featuring the artists Lee Bontecou, Gretna Campbell, Helen Frankenthaler, Helen Gerardia, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Julie Mehretu, Louise Nevelson, and Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Beyond the Club presents a history which features and resists canonized dialogue of the mid-twentieth century movement.
The exhibition traces the progression of approaches to scale and gestural abstraction affirmed by critics, towards more subversive practices that depict the personal, social and environmental conditions behind the painting. Selected works in the show illustrate ideological tension between the official narrative of Abstract Expressionism, characterized by gendered notions of American exceptionalism and “universal” values represented by medium-specificity, and women’s aesthetic contributions still held beyond the scenes in popular and art historical memory.
Using interviews with the artists on view and material artifacts from the period, Beyond the Club lifts the curtain to reveal what always existed: a visual record and dialogue which represent the pioneering developments that women made to Abstract Expressionism.