I recently had the opportunity to visit the “ Epic Abstraction” exhibit at the Met. The choice of the word “epic” was no mistake, even so I was not prepared for the sheer size of most of the works included. After an initial adjustment, I noticed that the gallery space lends itself to either detail or distant inspection of all of the work very comfortably.
Many of the pieces, owned by the Met gave a great sampling of renown abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock, Willem DeKooning, Ellsworth Kelly and Joan Mitchell to name a few. The most memorable of these for me was the immensity and buzz of a room of Mark Rothko’s color block paintings. These artists really had something to say and they did it LARGE. The New York School, credited with a focus on movement, process and scale were speaking to epic ideas like history and time itself post WWII. This was really palpable here.
A pleasant surprise was the large number of female artists represented. Louise Nevelson’s Mrs. N’s Palace has a very prominent place in this lineup. It is interesting to notice the various found objects and the flat black uniformity of the exterior while musing about the interior, which is completely private. It is said we are all “building our houses here on earth…” hers makes for a varied and interesting installation.
Finally, there was a fair number of lesser known and more recent artists given space and recognition as artists
continuing with an abstracted focus on process, movement and some very BIG ideas.
After all is painted and hung, Ellsworth Kelly himself puts it well, “ What is it?, Why is it? and How does it make you feel?” This left me feeling like there was a lot to be said and it needed epic proportions to convey it.