There is a monstrous show on at the RA at the moment. It is on until January and is called Abstract Expressionism. Monstrous in that there are some big names, monstrous in that there is a large number of paintings to see and monstrous in that many of the works on display are very big. All images in this blog are from the RA web page.
It is well worth seeing. It is a very bombastic exhibition. Lots of male ego on display, big paintings and lots of paint. There are a few women artists there but it is dominated by the names you are familiar with, Rothko (top right), Pollock(top left - the famous Blue Poles, de Koonig (bottom right) and the sculptor David Smith (bottom left). In addition some less well known and to me new names.
The first room contained peoples early work. There you can early Pollocks like the one above left. I really like this. I like the colours and the shapes. It is very different from his classic work. More familiar in style to my favourite of his the enourmous Mural (above bottom right). The picture maybe tiny but it is massive. I like the more organic lines to it and the swirling shapes. Like many of the pictures in the exhibition you have to stand a long way back to appreciate it.
The second room was entirely dedicate to someone new to me, Arshile Gorky. Large paintings, riots of colour with shapes emerging and disappearing again out of the colour.
The Violent Mark was the title of the room the contained the above two, Franz Kline (left) and Robert Motherwell (right). It is a good title because they have a great deal of energy to them. There were a number of Kline's work on display, in this room and others. I had heard of him before, seen images even but they really appealed to me in person. They reminded me of calligraphy which I also like. Simple energetic dark marks on the canvas. I found them most buigling. Of all the works in the exhibition if I can own one, it would something by Franz Kline. Motherell is more stately, more oozing.
These are just some of the highlights. There were other paintings that really struck home. Adolph Gottlieb's Penumbra, Sam Francis' Summer No.2, Norman Lewis Metropolitan Crowd and everything by the disturbingly serious Ad Reinhardt and Barnett Newman's large blocks of colour (see below). There were some things I decidedly didn't like, everything by Phillip Guston for example. Despite this go and see them. You will not be disappointed. I came away with much to think about.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.