Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy

This is the academy’s blockbuster for the year, and is proving very popular as it features so many major pieces by big names such as Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko. I have never been a fan of any of them,so thought it would be a chance to try to ‘get’ the style. The place was full of people listening to the commentary on headphones, discussing with each other.

I didn’t get it. I tried, but I’ve always seen the style as blobs on canvas, and seeing them all together was just more of the same. I read the information provided, and it just didn’t help. Just more artspeak. Words justifying what I didn’t get. Strolling through the busy galleries  was like being the only sober person at a party.

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Except for one artist who I’d never heard of before – the sculptor David Smith. His large metal sculptures were entrancing.This is from the Gallery Guide:

“The key first-generation Abstract Expressionist sculptor, David Smith created work that spanned a great range of themes and effects and often his imagery and ideas paralleled concerns seen though out Abstract Expressionism in general. The pieces here represent 4 of the series that Smith produced from 1956 until his death in 1965. They encompass rising forms that evoke the human presence, and others in which a more mechanistic or architectonic character prevails. The Courtyard display seeks to recreate the spirit of Smith’s installations in his fields at Bolton Landing in upstate New York. There, not only did each sculpture enter into a subtle dialogue with others, but they also responded to the space and sky around them.

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