Howard Mehring, Untitled (gray all-over), c. 1960-1962
Magna on canvas, 108 x 118 inches
September 17 – October 31, 2009
Conner Contemporary Art presents Conversations in Lyrical Abstraction: 1958-2009, an exhibition that elicits visual conversations among work by Morris Louis, Alma Thomas, Howard Mehring Jeremy Blake, and Leo Villareal. Breathing luminous color and varying in media from stain paintings to digitally controlled light emitting diodes, this select gathering of abstract images showcases Lyrical Abstraction as a vital impetus in American art.
This is the first time a Morris Louis painting has been exhibited in a privately-owned gallery in Washington since the 1950s. We are honored to present Louis’s magnificent veil painting, Plenitude (1958), in conjunction with a remarkable field painting by Alma Thomas, early all-over canvases by Howard Mehring, Jeremy Blake’s seminal video, Mod Lang, and Leo Villareal’s most recent digital light sculpture.
Conversations in Lyrical Abstraction crosses boundaries of race, gender, geography and chronology to reveal complementary visual effects among the works of diverse artists. The exhibition highlights conceptual parallels and methodological adjustments between the groundbreaking developments of mid-20th-century and recent innovations in Color-Field picturing. This selection of works underscores historical patterns of artistic exchange, experimentation, appropriation, and critique, and attests that artists in Washington, DC and New York have shared a creative dynamic over several generations.
The exhibition embodies Conner Contemporary Art’s longstanding commitment to investigations in Color-Field history. The Gallery has exhibited drawings by Morris Louis and Gene Davis and has contextualized the art of important, but lesser known, 1950-1960s Washington Color Painters, Howard Mehring and Thomas Downing, with the publication of supporting educational materials and catalogues. We have also encouraged new experimentation in abstract imaging, presenting seminal work in four solo exhibitions by Leo Villareal. We were privileged to support Multiverse, Villareal’s recent installation at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, which is on view through December 2009.