Abstract Expressionism

Guggenheim Bilbao


03 FEB 2017 - 04 JUN 2017
Exhibit content
Exhibit set-up
Text panels
Visitor recommended
Overall visit

Abstract Expressionism was a phenomenon as diverse and manifold as its makers. The collective label that critic Robert Coates coined in 1946 suggests two polarities: the emotional intensity of German Expressionism and the formal aesthetic of European abstraction. The artists themselves ranged from native New Yorkers to European émigrés; others hailed from the American heartland and the West. However, despite their ethnic and biographical differences, the fledgling Abstract Expressionists shared a common experience. Namely, they lived during the modern age of extremes and catastrophe that encompassed – among other terrible historical events – two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Spanish Civil War, atomic devastation and the ensuing Cold War. By contrast, the United States’ growing status as a global power helped foster a concomitant self-confidence in its burgeoning art world.

Visitor Reviews

H. Aurelie

H. Aureli...

Do you like abstract expressionism?
01 Jun, 2017

Some monumental paintings in this show, and if they don't touch you they will at least draw your attention. You can stay several minutes in front of some of them trying to understand, analyse or just feeling emotions. I liked this exhibit as a whole and was touched by a few paintings, but some of the artists or works still remain hermetic for me, despite the explanations. Also the last room of the exhibit was not located with the others and at first I thought with disappointment that this little room was the whole exhibition. Be careful not to miss the major part :)

H. Timothy

H. Timoth...

Caught this one just in time
01 Jun, 2017

Worth catching this show before Sunday if you're in or around Bilbao! It's all the names we know but this time they're laid out in a logical and accessible way to help us better understand the whole 'abstract expressionism' thing we often see and hear about. I learned that "by thinning his paints with turpentine," Rothko was "able to stain the canvas rather than pasting paint onto the canvas", which is probably part of the reason his "apparently straightforward compositions" are known to the whole world.