Turner Museum to Present "American International: Abstract Expressionism" Exhibit, Jan. 28-Feb. 24

Promo Photo The Turner’s first exhibition of the new year, “American International: Abstract Expressionism,” will be a visual compilation of print artists’ internal musings and reflections.
The exhibition takes place January 28-February 24 at the Turner Print Museum Gallery, located in the Meriam Library at Chico State. A reception/curator’s talk is scheduled for Thursday, January 31; the reception begins at 5:30 p.m. followed by the talk at 6 p.m.
For “American International: Abstract Expressionism” Turner Print Museum curator Catherine Sullivan collaborated with CSU, Chico graduate intern students Trinity Connelley, Adria Davis and Willow Starkey, and undergraduate student Maura Cavanaugh. Together they chose works from The Turner’s 3500-plus print collection that demonstrate the far-reaching influence of Abstract Expressionism, a distinctive American art movement.
According to Oxford University Press, Abstract Expressionism is a term applied to an art movement in the U.S. that flourished in the 1940s and 1950s. The works of this movement’s artists ranged from Barnett Newman’s unbroken fields of color to Willem de Kooning’s violent handling of the figure. Abstract Expressionism works had in common the usage of varying degrees of abstraction to convey strong emotional or expressive content.
Although the term primarily denotes a small nucleus of New York painters, Abstract Expressionist qualities can also be seen in the works of printmakers, sculptors and photographers from that time period.
For this exhibition The Turner will be displaying works by the movements most prominent printmakers — Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson and Max Ernst. Augmenting the exhibit will be works by local artists Claudia Steel, Jean Souders, and the late Ken Morrow; prints by these artsits were selected to show the far-reaching influence of this East Coast-based art movement.
“Abstract Expressionism was a uniquely American response that was European influenced,” noted Sullivan. “It opened the doors for a personal expression that comes from an artist’s internal reflections rather than portraying a representation of the external world.”
Print mediums represented in the exhibition include lithographs, etchings, serigraphs (screen prints), and woodcuts.  
Sullivan said The Turner decided to present American Expressionism as it reflects a similar exhibition currently taking place at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
This exhibition was enhanced by CSU, Chico professor Laura Nice’s curriculum on Modernism.
“These factors led us to create an exhibition with an interpretation of Modernism that would impart, hopefully, an understanding of the American departure into Abstract Expressionism,” noted Sullivan.
Because Abstract Expressionism also has roots in other European art movements, such as Surrealism, Cubism and Dada, The Turner’s exhibition incorporates works from these movements as well.
Sullivan said part of The Turner’s mission is to be an educational resource for Chico State’s Department of Art and Art History. The student curators not only participated in the selection process, they also researched the era and artists for the curatorial statements that accompany the exhibition.
“Curating an exhibition is much the same as writing a good paper,” said Sullivan. “It has a point of view, an organizational structure and presents a conclusion. Curation is an educational passage reflecting an understanding and appreciation of expanding visual awareness of the times, the artists and their effect on society. When this process is demonstrated in a visual manner, the viewer can take the journey by ‘reading’ the image as a linear construct or individually in random order as the print appeals to them.”
A select number of prints from The Turner collection that expand on the “American International: Abstract Expressionism” exhibition at the museum gallery will also be displayed in the Ayres Hall first floor cases on the CSU, Chico campus.
The Turner is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday during exhibition dates. Tours and other viewing hours can be arranged by calling 530-898-4476 or by contacting Sullivan by e-mail at csullivan@csuchico.edu. School tours can also be arranged through The Turner’s website: wwwtheturner.org.


The Janet Turner Print Museum is part of the School of the Arts at CSU, Chico. To see a video of art exhibitions presented during 2012-2013 by The Turner and University Art Gallery please visit http://bit.ly/Pvz2HH.