Anne Ryan harnessed visual art as a means for creating poetry through the relatively new, nonverbal idioms of American abstract art.
The untitled works, made between 1948 and 1954 (the year Ryan died), on view in this elegant show are small, many just five by four inches. But wisps of torn paper and scraps of fabric assume bold proportions in these compressed compositions. Stray fibres become decisive lines; minor wrinkles offer rich texture.
Tucked away in the backroom at Washburn Gallery is an art chalice. At slightly more than 10 by 8 inches, it is a crisply painted white cup facing left in profile on a tabletop with only a single ripe banana as company.
Ryan’s remarkable ability to generate genuine emotion from the abstract is made clear in this exhibition.
More than five decades since the Whitney Museum of American Art mounted a posthumous retrospective devoted to the late abstract painter and printmaker Alice Trumbull Mason, the artist’s work is being revisited in an exhibition that aims to recontextualise her as a pioneer of American abstraction, whose work was overshadowed by that of her male peers.
“Like ordinary everyday experience, except about two inches off the ground”—that’s the Buddhist scholar D. T. Suzuki explaining what enlightenment feels like, but he might as well be talking about the late style of Alice Trumbull Mason, the subject of a quietly superb exhibition at Washburn Gallery.
A poignant gallery show of the artist’s “Shutter Paintings” is paired with an exceptional Whitney exhibition of the forward-looking prints that she and her contemporaries made in days gone by.
Alice Trumbull Mason (1904–71) is an artist deserving of reevaluation. A new monograph published by Rizzoli, and an exhibition now on view at Washburn Gallery, should help in that rediscovery.
Alice Trumbull Mason, a painter, printmaker, and vocal proponent of non-objective art who cofounded the American Abstract Artists group in 1936, is among the figures who are getting their due with the reevaluation of the prevailing — typically white, male — narrative of American abstraction.
The first monograph of a painter’s painter brings a jolt of new insight and a confident show of her works’ mindfulness and beauty.
For Alice Trumbull Mason, a little-known pioneer of abstract painting in America, abstraction was the real realism.