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Van Gogh to Rothko: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art debuts an exhibition of masterworks from the collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Crystal Bridges Museum of American announces the opening of Van Gogh to Rothko: Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, on view  February 21 through June 1, 2015. The exhibition brings together 76 artworks by 73 influential artists from the late 19th century to the present, including Vincent van Gogh, Joán Miró, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and Mark Rothko. The works were selected from the collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, one of the finest collections of 20th century art in the country. General admission to the temporary exhibition is $10 and free to Members and youth under 18 years old.

“Crystal Bridges is one of only four venues to host the exhibition and we’re delighted to provide visitors a rare opportunity to share the gallery with some of the most prominent figures in art history.  Albright-Knox is one of the oldest collecting institutions in the country—we’re grateful, as one of the youngest, to share these stunning works that helped shape the story of American art.” says Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges Executive Director.

Van Gogh to Rothko explores the development of major art movements that shaped the course of modern art and marks the first time many of these works have toured in decades. The works have been arranged in chronological order by art movements, allowing visitors to follow the development of styles as they move through the gallery.

Beginning with Post-Impressionism, Vincent van Gogh’s painting La Maison de la Crau, 1888, shows that artists were less concerned with naturalistic representation. Instead, they conveyed personal and emotional responses to subjects. The exhibition then moves to Cubism with three-dimensional objects depicted on two dimensional surfaces, breaking objects up into basic geometric shapes, or creating images in a collage-style, as seen with Juan Gris, Le Canigou, 1921.

Van Gogh to Rothko also features Surrealism, which sought to unlock the unconscious mind and called upon Freudian methods of free association, seen with Joan Miro’s Carnaval d’Arlequin, 1924-25. The most significant representation in the exhibition is approximately 20 mid-century American artists, many whom identified as Abstract Expressionists, including Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Robert Motherwell, and Jackson Pollock.

“Abstract Expressionism signals a radical new direction, and begins to shift the focus of the art world to American art. Jackson Pollock’s Convergence (1952), is the centerpiece of the exhibition as an 8 x 13 foot example of his revolutionary drip paintings,” says Crystal Bridges Curator Manuela Well-Off-Man, who curated the exhibition’s installation at Crystal Bridges.

From the Abstract Expressionists, the exhibition moves to Pop Art. Born from postwar-America’s economic boom, the movement embraced the visual language of mass culture and consumerism seen in Andy Warhol’s 100 Cans, 1962, leading to Op Art with artists such as Bridget Riley and her painting Sequel, 1975, using optical effects often based on geometric abstraction to create illusions.

“This exhibition shows the strength of female artists including Bridget Riley, Lee Krasner, and Georgia O’Keeffe,” Well-Off-Man said. “Although many women artists of the time were overlooked, Albright-Knox’s collection demonstrates their work holds up next to the work of their male peers.”


Additional Resources:

To connect visitors to the artists and art movements, a variety of resources have been developed to complement traditional printed materials:

          Free Audio Guides– available in English and Spanish, along with a family version.

          Gallery Film- Jackson Pollock 51, 1951 directed by Hans Namuth, (duration 10 minutes).

          Listening Station- Viewers are encouraged to pair Rothko’s Orange and Yellow with classical music or sounds that create an immersive and meditative experience.

          Artist Studio Interactive Space- educational area for visitors to explore studio practices of artists in the exhibition.  The space features interactive stations including Create Your Own Selfie inspired by Frida Kahlo’s Self Portrait with Monkey, 1938; Figurative Sculpture Station inspired by Alberto Giacometti’s Walking Man (Version I), 1960; and Touch Table with a Splatter Painting activity for visitors to test their hand at a digital interpretation of Jackson Pollock’s method of action painting.

          Public Programs– provide another way for visitors to engage deeply with the works in the exhibition with highlights to include a Spotlight Lecture with Dr. Janne Sirén, Albright-Knox Director on Friday , February 20,  two performances of RED, a play about Mark Rothko on February 25 and 27,  and Abstract Expressionism Tours throughout the exhibition.

Non-flash photography is welcome for personal, non-commercial use. #VanGoghtoRothko

This exhibition is organized by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York and supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art presentation has been made possible by Rich Family Foundation; Harriet and Warren Stephens, Stephens Inc.; Art Agency, Partners, and Stout Executive Search.

“It is with great pleasure that the Rich Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Rich Products Corporation, supports the Crystal Bridges exhibition of Van Gogh to Rothko: Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York,” said Mindy Rich.  “This sponsorship speaks directly to our ongoing passion for and commitment to the arts.”