The Seattle Art Museum presents Big Picture: Art After 1945, featuring significant works of abstract painting and sculpture from Seattle Art Museum’s collection. Held in the museum’s third floor galleries, it opens July 23, 2016, and will stage additional installments throughout the summer and fall. Tracing landmark artistic developments in the decades following World War II, Big Picture reveals how abstraction established itself as a dominant force to be reckoned with.
The installation will highlight works from the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection given to the museum, such as Mark Rothko’s No. 10 (1952), Jasper Johns’ Thermometer (1959), and Eva Hesse’s No Title (1964). It will also feature key loans from other local collections, reflecting the depth and commitment of private collectors in Seattle.
Virginia and her husband, Bagley Wright, who passed away in 2011, are longtime visionary leaders and legendary arts patrons of SAM and Seattle. The Wrights have donated extraordinary works to the museum for decades but within the past two years, Virginia Wright gave a large part of her and her husband’s collection to the museum. These works have transformed SAM’s modern and contemporary collection, elevating it to national status.
In addition, Big Picture includes select contemporary works that point to the continuity and resonance of these ideas today, such as X (2015)—a painting recently acquired by the museum—by Gwendolyn Knight | Jacob Lawrence Prize-winner Brenna Youngblood. Also on view will be five videos that highlight the physical act and process of painting; the selection includes works by Kazuo Shiraga, Yvonne Rainer, and Margie Livingston—as well as Hans Namuth’s famed work that shows Pollock performing his drip-painting technique.
Following the opening on July 23, additional installments are planned for August 20 and then again on November 19. The August installment addresses varying modes of portraiture, while November introduces works by European artists such as Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, and Katharina Fritsch. In subject and materiality, these works are grounded in the post-war European experience and address different concerns from the American works.
“The initial spotlight will be on the pioneering American artists whose groundbreaking ideas continue to reverberate today. We can’t think of the history of American art without them,” says Catharina Manchanda, Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art. “Come November, a look across the Atlantic to more somber works will provide a counterpoint to the great optimism of the American experiments. This changing dynamic will greatly reward repeat visits to the museum.”
Jo Baer, William A. Baziotes, Max Beckmann, Joseph Beuys, Mark Boyle, Alberto Burri, John Cage, Anthony Caro, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Katharina Fritsch, Arshile Gorky, Nancy Graves, Philip Guston, David Hammons, Al Held, Karin Helmich, Eva Hesse, Hans Hofmann, Neil Jenney, Jasper Johns, Lester Johnson, Brian Jungen, Ellsworth Kelly, Anselm Kiefer, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Franz Kline, Jannis Kounellis, Lee Krasner, Alfred Leslie, Margie Livingston, Robert Mangold, Agnes Martin, Robert Morris, Robert Motherwell, Hans Namuth, Alice Neel, Barnett Newman, Kenneth Noland, Alfonso Ossorio, Jackson Pollock, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Mark Rothko, Robert Ryman, Kazuo Shiraga, David Smith, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Dan Webb, Brenna Youngblood
Learn more at SeattleArtMuseum.org