Basel

Malcolm Morley

Kunsthalle

Malcolm Morley first encountered the work of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko at a show of American art at London’s Tate Gallery in 1956. The artistic atmosphere in England at the time was more inclined toward the emerging Pop art than to Abstract Expressionism; resisting the local zeitgeist, however, Morley opted for the latter path, taking it as a personal challenge. After briefly inspecting the New York scene in 1957, he moved there in 1958. For once, the issue is not that famous “American in Paris,” but the “Englishman in New York,” an entirely different situation.

All the more astonishing appear the developments in Morley’s work as shown in this first comprehensive retrospective. The ship paintings of 1965 and 1966 seem less Abstract Expressionist than photorealist, but the illusionism in the work is the result of abstraction. While these ships have a strong emotional

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