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Abstract Expressionism Revisited

In celebration of The Art League's 60th Anniversary in 2014, the Gallery is revisiting and reflecting upon the major art movements from the last six decades.

Abstract Expressionism Revisited

January 8–February 3, 2014

Juror: Anne Marchand, annemarchand.com
Reception: Thursday, January 9, 6:30-8:00 pm

Links: exhibit program | view exhibit on Flickr

In the Key of Green and Gold by Constance Slack, winner of the Gallery Director's Award

Juror’s dialogue with George Miller

In celebration of its 60th anniversary year in 2014, The Art League Gallery is revisiting and reflecting on the major art movements from the last six decades. This month, our artists took inspiration from the 1950s, the decade The Art League was founded, and the Abstract Expressionism movement.

To jury this first in a series of exhibits, The Art League turned to local painter Anne Marchand. Although the Abstract Expressionists are generally identified with painting, artists in all media found ways to draw inspiration from the movement while adding a “revisited” twist.

Primary among the defining characteristics of Abstract Expressionism, Marchand said she was looking for color and gesture, creating a sense of mystery, depth, and movement. The best examples of Abstract Expressionism create a visceral response in the viewer, and color is one of the main vehicles for that kind of emotive power, Marchand said — along with line, gesture, and pattern.

There were no absolute rules, though. Several monochromatic pieces can be found in the show, as can representational works. The call to artists specified that artists should derive inspiration from Abstract Expressionism, but there was a wide variety of responses to that theme. Marchand saw a secondary theme emerge in artists using the basic elements of Abstract Expressionism to portray the natural world, in abstracted landscapes or organic forms.

Painting is well represented in the exhibit, but many photographs were also accepted. These photographers successfully used patterns and gesture in a painterly way, and created a sense of movement with line, Marchand said. Sculptors, printmakers, collage artists, and others all incorporated the means and motives of the Abstract Expressionists.

Marchand recognized two pieces with awards. In the Key of Green and Gold by Constance Slack was awarded the Gallery Director’s Award for Best in Show. Beautifully painted, evocative, and powerfully composed, the acrylic painting applied the lessons of Abstract Expressionism in a contemporary way, Marchand said. It’s directly influenced by the movement, but “it has its own quietness,” she said. Marchand pointed specifically to the artist’s evocative colors and textures as meriting the award.

For the Juror’s Choice Award, Marchand selected 64 Garden Square by Gaetano Rando, a mixed-media, sculptural piece with a strong graphic quality. The use of color and line is comparable to the Abstract Expressionists’, but the piece also goes “to the edge of abstraction” and points toward other movements, for example, in its incorporation of a grid pattern.

About the juror: Anne Marchand was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She completed a Master of Fine Arts Degree Program at the University of Georgia. Marchand says about her own work, “Moving with both conscious and spontaneous actions, I combine themes of spirit and matter.” Anne is recipient of a 2014 Artist Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. ArtVoices Magazine interviewed and featured her work on the cover of their December 2013 issue. She was awarded a CAP/MEX EX Residency Grant in 2003 from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation & the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities to teach a mural workshop at Escuela de Artes José Limón in Culiacán, Mexico. In 2002, Anne was nominated for Excellence in Artistic Discipline in the distinguished DC Mayor's Arts Awards. She has designed and won numerous mural competitions. Her public art works can be seen in Washington, DC and in Arlington, VA.

Promotional support for our 60th Anniversary has been generously provided by the Alexandria Marketing Fund.



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