Destroy The Picture: Painting The Void

Spatial Concept 'Waiting' 1960 by Lucio Fontana 1899-1968

Destroy the Pic­ture: Paint­ing the Void, 1949–1962 focuses on one of the most sig­nif­i­cant devel­op­ments in con­tem­po­rary abstract paint­ing: the artist’s lit­eral assault on the pic­ture plane. Respond­ing to the phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal destruc­tion wrought by World War II—especially the exis­ten­tial cri­sis result­ing from the atomic bomb—artists ripped, cut, burned, and affixed objects to the can­vas in lieu of paint. Destroy the Pic­ture empha­sizes this inter­na­tion­ally shared artis­tic sen­si­bil­ity in the con­text of dev­as­tat­ing global change and dynamic artis­tic dia­logues, offer­ing an inno­v­a­tive and expan­sive view of art mak­ing in the post­war period.


As artists from war-torn coun­tries like Italy and Japan—including Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, Kazuo Shi­raga, and Shozo Shimamoto—channeled their ruined sur­round­ings into artis­tic form, artists through­out the world—such as Yves Klein and Niki de Saint Phalle in France, John Latham in the United King­dom, Robert Rauschen­berg and Lee Bon­te­cou in the United States, Otto Müehl in Aus­tria, and Manolo Mil­lares in Spain, among others—pursued sim­i­lar approaches and strate­gies. Destroy the Pic­ture presents an oppor­tu­nity to recon­sider the pro­found reper­cus­sions of this remark­ably coher­ent approach in paint­ing, from artists’ early exper­i­ments with trans­lat­ing ges­tures into mate­ri­als to their empha­sis on a rup­ture between two and three dimen­sions, as well as the expan­sion of the paint­ing medium to incor­po­rate per­for­mance, assem­blage, and time-based strate­gies. In many cases, the exhi­bi­tion places the work of now-established artists back into the rad­i­cal con­text in which it orig­i­nally emerged.

Destroy the Pic­ture fea­tures approx­i­mately 100 works cre­ated between 1949 and 1962 by artists from eight coun­tries, includ­ing Lee Bon­te­cou, Alberto Burri, Lucio Fontana, Sal­va­tore Scarpitta, and Kazuo Shi­raga, in addi­tion to Gérard Deschamps, François Dufrêne, Jean Fautrier, Adolf Frohner, Ray­mond Hains, Yves Klein, John Latham, Gus­tav Met­zger, Otto Müehl, Manolo Mil­lares, Saburo Murakami, Robert Rauschen­berg, Niki de Saint Phalle, Shozo Shi­mamoto, Antoni Tàpies, Chiyu Uemae, Jacques Vil­leglé, Wolf Vostell, and Michio Yoshihara.


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