“Abstract Expressionism: The Critical Developments”

Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Since the beginning of the ’80s, a growing number of exhibitions have focused on American painting during the three decades preceding 1960. Two of these exhibitions—Barbara Rose’s opportunistic “Krasner/Pollock, A Working Relationship” (1981) and Paul Schimmel’s well thought out “Action/Precision: The New Direction in New York, 1955–60” (1984)—reexamined earlier interpretations and their resulting codifications and attitudes. In assembling “Abstract Expressionism: The Critical Developments” and the accompanying catalogue, curator Michael Auping had a wonderful opportunity to provide an alternative to currently accepted readings, but, sad to say, he played it safe instead. As a result, the exhibition existed in a fuzzy zone between a “greatest hits” survey and a timid reevaluation.

Among the numerous problems with the exhibition were its subtitle and its choice of artists—William Baziotes,

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