WT professors’ research on women artists inspires Amarillo art museum exhibit

CANYON – The neglected role of women in a vital American art movement – and the crucial role in their success played by art lovers in the Panhandle region – will be explored in a new exhibition at the Amarillo Museum of Art inspired by a pair of West Texas A&M University professors.

“Women of Abstract Expressionism in the American West” opened on August 7 at the museum, 2200 S. Van Buren St. It will be on view until October 10.

“We are pleased to be able to work alongside Amy and Bonnie to explore their recent research with an exhibition of works of art by these important American artists, who were also women,” said Alex Gregory, curator of the art at AMoA. “The museum is fortunate to have important works of art by these artists in the permanent collection, and I always appreciate the opportunity to see them and gain a better understanding of their meaning from visitors to the museum.”

Abstract Expressionists adopted a dynamic and gestural application of painting, as well as more contemplative and non-figurative fields of color, according to AMoA.

In the years since the movement emerged in New York City in the 1940s, it was broadly defined in rather limited terms, according to Dr Amy Von Lintel, Doris Alexander Endowed Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts and Director of Gender Studies. , and Dr. Bonnie Roos, Professor of English and Head of the Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages.

The artists most associated with the movement are Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko, but female artists were also very influential, said Von Lintel and Roos.

"Untitled [Bull]," vs.  1959, is an oil on canvas by Elaine de Kooning exhibited in

The professors are collaborating on “Three Women Artists: Expanding Abstract Expressionism in the American West,” a book to be published by Texas A&M Press later this year. The result of years of research, “Three Women Artists” aims to “refocus the narrative,” said Von Lintel.

“We’re rethinking some of the rigorous thinking of what Abstract Expressionism used to be – rethinking it in terms of genre, geography, medium, style and subject – looking at the evidence,” said Von Lintel.

Not only were women key players in the movement, but they were also not strictly confined to the coasts.

“We are looking at how they went from being central figures in their time to being marginalized, shunned like tokens in academic writing until recently,” Roos said.

Artists Elaine de Kooning and Louise Nevelson, among 16 other female artists, found a receptive audience in Amarillo when they were brought here by Dord Fitz, the namesake of WT’s formal art gallery, for “The Women : Tops in Art ”, a pivotal 1960 exhibition in Amarillo.

“They were dumped in New York City, but they came here and were treated like rock stars,” Von Lintel said. “The presumption that this area has always been conservative and patriarchal is overturned. “

Collectors, rich or not, rushed to buy their works, and many paid artists to give lessons. Ultimately, this community of art lovers became influential in the founding of AMoA itself.

But the Panhandle area art scene was not the only beneficiary of these women’s frequent trips here.

“These women were really influenced by this place,” Roos said. “Their art has changed dramatically after being here. “

The exhibition will include works by de Kooning, Nevelson, Jeanne Reynal, Jane Wilson, Jane Freilicher, Grace Hartigan, Helen Frankenthaler and others from AMoA’s permanent collection and private collections in the region.

“These artists, along with Dord Fitz and his contagious enthusiasm for art, have had an incredible impact on the Texas Panhandle and High Plains area,” said Gregory. “Without these artists visiting the region, running workshops and selling their works to regional collectors, the history of the museum and art in the region would be completely different. I appreciate the opportunity to honor this lasting legacy.

AMoA’s summer hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Free entry. For more information, visit amoa.org or contact amoa@actx.edu or 806-371-5050.

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