The Dallas Museum of Art presents Bold Abstractions: Selections from the DMA Collection 1966–1976, an exhibition that explores work produced by artists who challenged the boundaries of traditional easel painting over the course of a decade, beginning in 1966. Presented in conjunction with Frank Bowling: Map Paintings and Concentrations 58: Chosil Kil, on view February 20 through August 2, 2015, in the DMA’s Barrel Vault and two of the surrounding galleries, this exhibition brings together twenty-eight works of art drawn exclusively from the Museum’s holdings and private collections in Dallas. Artists Bowling and Kil, as well as the American artist Barry Le Va, served as inspiration for Bold Abstractions.
The inspiration for the installation, according to Gavin Delahunty, the DMA’s Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, was drawn from three artists—Frank Bowling, Barry Le Va, and Chosil Kil: Bowling for his remarkable work as a painter and critic in New York from the late 1960s as well as his advocacy of black artists internationally; Le Va for his restless exploration and expansion of the language of sculpture; and Kil for her poetic work that draws upon the legacies of the decade exploring questions around an object’s placement in space and its relationship to the viewer. “Bold Abstractions allows the viewer to experience art created during a decade of great change around the world.”
The political and artistic liberties of the late 1960s and early 70s brought fresh experimentation in art. Civil rights, feminism, and the gay liberation movements gave a voice to those who up to that point had been largely excluded. For the first time, artists informed by these social realities were empowered because the art world was now forced to look and listen. Bold Abstractions examines the sophisticated formal and phenomenological investigations that push paint—and painting—beyond its historical format. This exhibition presents lesser-known artists alongside familiar names from the ten-year span represented in the exhibition, revealing the cultural and political climate of the time in both the United States and worldwide. The works of art on display in Bold Abstractions, which are made of a variety of materials, from paint to beeswax, serve as an introduction to the exhibitions on view in the surrounding Quadrant Galleries.
Bold Abstractions includes works from the Museum’s collection that have not been on view in a number of years, including Jules Olitski’s 1966 piece Mojo Working, on view for the first time in twenty years. Other artists represented in the exhibition include Melvin Edwards and Jack Whitten, both of whom were friends with Bowling and other black artists working in New York during the time Bowling created his Map Paintings. Barry Le Va’s Cut, Placed Parallel, from the DMA’s collection, will be on view in one of the Quadrant Galleries in the Barrel Vault, with work from the radical Italian art movement Arte Povera on view in the remaining gallery, referencing the art-making practice during this time period.
Jules Olitski, Mojo Working, 1966.
Acrylic on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Edward S. Marcus Fund, © Estate of Jules Olitski
Image courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art