Patterns, Systems, Structures: Abstraction in American Art
This exhibition, curated by MAM’s Chief Curator Gail Stavitsky, was drawn entirely from the permanent collection of the Montclair Art Museum and explored the rich variety of approaches to abstraction in American art. Since the late 19th century, painters and sculptors have not always aimed to depict persons and objects representationally. Artists moved toward abstract visual expression as they experimented with unconventional materials and techniques and developed visual languages of form, color, and line that exist independently from their subjects’ natural appearance. Some artists deliberately altered appearances by stretching or bending forms, breaking up shapes, and giving objects unlikely textures or colors. Others looked to aspects of our person-made world, such as architecture, to invest their compositions with a sense of solidity, monumentality, and structure. Artists have made these transformations in an effort to communicate universal or unseen spiritual aspects of existence and of modern life that they cannot convey through representational treatments.