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Painters of the East End Shown at Kasmin

  • Jane Freilicher - Landscape in Water Mill
July 12, 2019
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

The artists living in New York during the late 1940s fled to the nearby seaside to find their inspiration there. It wasn’t just the search for a particular motif; rather, it was a quest to settle in quiet, to contemplate, to explore simple fascinations deployed of the burden and the frenzy of the city. That is how a particular community of artists was established in Long Island’s East End, apparently dazzled by the beautiful wilderness of the coast, and the freedom it allowed compared to their dim studios.

The upcoming exhibition at the Kasmin will explore the results of these fascinations by focusing on the distinctions and commonalities present in the production of the prolific women artists belonging to the community during the mid-twentieth century, most of them associated with Abstract Expressionism.

Charlotte Park - Untitled
Charlotte Park – Untitled, ca. 1965. Oil and oil crayon on canvas, 30 1/4 x 30 1/4 inches, 76.8 x 76.8 cm. Image courtesy Berry Campbell

The Exhibition Context

Long Island has a long tradition of being an artistic resort, a place where inspiration is found without an intermediary. However, the formation of a particular artist-based community in the East End happened simultaneously with the arrival of the European avant-garde in the midst of World War II throughout the 1940s and the establishment of the New York School during the 1950s and 1960s. The Director at the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in East Hampton, Helen A. Harrison, explains this period:

The painters who gravitated to Long Island’s South Fork in the mid-twentieth century were a far more varied group than the earlier art colonists, who came primarily for the picturesque scenery. They ran the gamut from landscape painters to Surrealists, Abstract Expressionists, and Pop artists, so it’s clear that many were motivated by factors other than subject matter. Perhaps even more important than the beautiful surroundings and the ease of access from New York City was the magnetism of association, as artists attracted one another to form a vibrant creative community that continues to thrive today.

Apparently, the artists selected this part of the Long Island for the larger studios, the ability to paint outdoors and quietness. The landscapes they found were stimulating enough for contemplation and possible transcendence. Especially women found their way meaning that they were able to explore their own sensibility in a restless and unburdened fashion.

Nell Blaine - Shell and Wine Bottle
Nell Blaine – Shell and Wine Bottle, 1967. Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches, 45.7 x 61 cm. Courtesy Reynolds Gallery

The Women of Abstract Expressionism

The installment will include the works of Perle Fine, Mary Abbott, Nell Blaine, Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Jane Freilicher, Joan Mitchell, Charlotte Park, Elaine de Kooning, Jane Wilson, and Betty Parsons, who was among the leading art dealers and promoters of Abstract Expressionism, and an artist herself.

Despite the fact all of their practices differ aesthetically, what they share the same is the simplicity and luminosity of the displayed scenes; although their common paintings are saturated with seriousness and sort of a rigidness typical for the post-war American abstraction, works made during the time spent in this area seems much freer and subtle.

Left Betty Parsons - Early Light Right Elaine de Kooning - Untitled
Left: Betty Parsons – Early Light, 1965. Acrylic on canvas, 30 3/4 x 25 5/8 inches, 78.1 x 65.1 cm. Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York © Betty Parsons Foundation / Right: Elaine de Kooning –Untitled, 1949. Oil on board, 10 x 8 inches, 25.4 x 20.3 cm. Courtesy Eric Firestone Gallery © Elaine de Kooning

Painters of the East End at Kasmin

What makes this exhibition so interesting is the common interest of all the proponents in creating a specific environment liberated from the constraints of a particular genre or latest tendency; these women were able to express their potentials to full extent without being subjected to any judgmental propositions.

Painters of the East End will be on display at the Kasmin in New York until 16 August 2019.

Featured image: Jane Freilicher – Landscape in Water Mill, 1962. Oil on linen, 18 x 20 inches, 45.7 x 50.8 cm. Courtesy of the Estate of Jane Freilicher and Kasmin.