Abstraction, Color, and Politics:  

The 1960s and 1970s

June 8, 2019 - February 9, 2020

In the midst of the political and cultural upheavals of the 60s and 70s, artists, critics, and the public grappled with the relationship between art, politics, race, and feminism. During these decades, the notion that abstraction was a purely formal and American art form, concerned only with timeless themes disconnected from the present, was met with increased skepticism. Women artists and artists of color began to actively and assertively explore abstraction’s possibilities. The artworks in Abstraction, Color, and Politics: The 1960s and 1970s demonstrate both radical and disarming changes in how artists worked and what they thought their art was about. Their new formal and intellectual strategies—seen here across large-scale and miniature work—dramatically transformed the practice of abstraction in the 1960s and 1970s in a politically shifting American landscape.

UMMA gratefully acknowledges the following donors for their generous support:

Lead Exhibition Sponsors: University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Michigan Medicine, and College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

Exhibition Endowment Donors:  Richard and Rosann Noel Endowment Fund, Herbert W. and Susan L. Johe Endowment, and Robert and Janet Miller Fund

University of Michigan Funding Partners: Institute for Research on Women and Gender, School of Social Work, Department of Political Science, and Department of Women's Studies

Images

Howardena Pindell, Kyoto (Positive/Negative), 1980, etching and lithograph on paper. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Museum purchase made possible by the David G. Parkes Memorial Fund, 1990/1.191 © Courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

John T. Scott, Spiders Don't Work on Weekends 2#, 1977, gouache on paper. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. James L. Curtis, 2011/2.186.2. Courtesy of the John T. Scott Estate and Arthur Roger Gallery

Louise Nevelson, Dark Presence III, 1971, painted wood. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of Bobby Kotick, 2016/2.119. © 2018 Estate of Louise Nevelson/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Helen Frankenthaler, Sunset Corner, 1969, acrylic on canvas. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Museum purchase, 1973/1.813. © 2018 Helen Frankenthaler / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Richard Hunt, PP II, ca. 1978, hand-made paper on paper. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Museum Purchase, 1979/2.93 © Richard Hunt

Timeline

Exhibition Timeline

SatJun 8
Exhibition Opens
Sun
Jun 9
Abstraction, Color, and Politics: The 1960s and 1970s
2:00pm3:00pm
Exhibitions Related / Gallery Talks and Tours
Thu
Jul 11
UMMA Book Club: Art, Ideas, & Politics
12:00pm1:00pm
Exhibitions Related
Sun
Aug 4
Abstraction, Color, and Politics: The 1960s and 1970s
2:00pm3:00pm
Exhibitions Related / Gallery Talks and Tours
Thu
Sep 12
2019
UMMA Book Club: Art, Ideas, & Politics
12:00pm1:00pm
Exhibitions Related
Sun
Oct 6
2019
Abstraction, Color, and Politics: The 1960s and 1970s
2:00pm3:00pm
Exhibitions Related / Gallery Talks and Tours
Sun
Nov 10
2019
Abstraction, Color, and Politics: The 1960s and 1970s
2:00pm3:00pm
Exhibitions Related / Gallery Talks and Tours
SunFeb 9
Exhibition Closes