Photo (2014): Tim Griffiths at Stanford News
The discussion around what constitutes the boundaries of Abstract Expressionism continues to recur despite decades-long attempts by revisionists. Most provocatively, Ann Gibson’s Abstract Expressionism: Other Politics (1997) demonstrates how women, artists of color, and queer artists were systemically left out of the canon. Two decades later, it has become de rigeur to call for the addition of these artists into exhibitions, but academic scholarship has lagged. Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline remain the familiar anchors of Abstract Expressionism. Here at Stanford, The Anderson Collection showcases important works by the above-mentioned names yet there are many artists not currently a part of our permanent collection whose involvement in the movement has been omitted from the oft-repeated narratives of the period.
We celebrate the recent focus on women, on cultural inclusivity, on gender expansive dialogues and the move to allow a spectrum of identifications. The museum takes this opportunity to look in depth at black artists working abstractly at mid-century as a case study in order to nurture the growing scholarship in this area. How did the art praxis of African-American artists intersect with the overall Abstract Expressionist movement? How does African-American cultural production continue to undergird key fundamentals of mid-century abstraction? There were black Abstract Expressionists of both the first and second generation. Some showed at top-notch galleries associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement—Romare Bearden at Kootz Gallery and Norman Lewis at The Willard Gallery. Others such as Peter Bradley had advocates in the often denigrated figure of Clement Greenberg. This symposium aims to make visible these intertwined narratives in order to explore how blackness and the Abstract Expressionist movement have been tethered all along; but more often than not, their periodic overlapping aims tend to move between invisibility and hypervisibility depending on the needs of a public.
With a variety of programming over a two-day period, the Anderson Collection will work with scholars, professors, artists, musicians, collectors, and performers to open these topics up to wide discussion. The symposium will feature a keynote speaker, workshops, a live performance, and a conversation with contemporary black artists working in abstraction.
The two-day symposium is planned for January 27 and 28, 2017 at the Anderson Collection at Stanford University.
Interested participants are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 350 words along with a CV to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 10, 2016. Accepted participants will be notified by November 7, 2016. Presenters are invited to give papers suitable for 15- to 20-minute time slots.
The Anderson Collection at Stanford University is a world-class museum built around a permanent collection of 121 modern and contemporary American paintings and sculptures by 86 artists. As a center for research, scholarship, and appreciation of post-war and contemporary American art, the Anderson Collection works exemplify pivotal movements in modern art: Abstract Expressionism, Color Field Painting, Bay Area Figuration, California Light and Space, among others.
Andrianna Campbell, Doctoral Candidate, The CUNY Graduate Center
Jason Linetzky, Director, Anderson Collection at Stanford University
Aimee Shapiro, Director of Programming and Engagement, Anderson Collection at Stanford University
Jeff Chang, Executive Director, Institute for Diversity in the Arts, Stanford University
Richard Meyer, Professor of Art History, Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University
Alex Nemerov, Department Chair, Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University