The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts

Art Talk | Introducing Abstract Expressionism: European Precedents and the Energy of the Whole


Thursday, October 20, 2022 | 5:30 PM

In the spirit of Woman-Ochre – our stolen, recovered, restored and now returned painting by pioneer Abstract Expressionist Willem de Kooning – we’re thrilled to host this talk by Modern and Contemporary Art expert Dr. Paul Ivey.

American Abstract Expressionism (Ab Ex for short) integrates several key concepts from European modernism, including the idea that the artist communicates universal direct emotion through painterly expression, and the idea that individual creativity can be accessed through the unconscious.

Applauded by critics, and discovered by the emerging art market, Ab Ex was viewed as the first truly American Modern Art movement, with New York displacing Paris as the center of Modern Art. Often mythic, ritualistic, and even messianic, Ab Ex often posited universal structures of the Jungian collective unconscious. Many works escaped the perceptual logic of the gaze:  our eyes take in the prodigious energy of the whole.

This talk is presented in conjunction with the exhibits Abstract Perspectives in Mid-Century Art and Restored: The Return of Woman-Ochre.

Dr. Paul Ivey teaches Modern and Contemporary Art.  He researches the built environments and compounds of alternative and esoteric American religions and communal groups. He is author of Radiance from Halcyon, A Utopian Experiment in Religion and Science, concerning a turn of the twentieth century theosophical intentional community on California’s Central Coast, and Prayers in Stone:  Christian Science Architecture in the United States, 1894 – 1930.

All talks in the Woman-Ochre Speaker Series are generously supported by Tim Hagyard with Long Realty, specializing in historic and unusual properties.