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Loyola University Museum of Art


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Small Scale Abstract Works Get Big Focus in New Exhibition at LUMA

Exhibition Challenges Common Perception that Bigger Art is Better


CHICAGO, September 11, 2008 – 

Franz Kline

Suitcase Paintings: Small Scale Abstract Expressionist Works, the newest exhibition opening at the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), opens on September 27 and runs through October 26, 2008. The exhibition offers a unique focus and challenges the perception in the art world that bigger is always better.

Organized by Thomas McCormick for the Georgia Museum of Art, Suitcase Paintings presents the work of artists normally associated with large-scale paintings. The exhibition showcases more than 50 canvases under 24 inches that achieve the same emotion and action of larger works. The exhibition features several well-known Abstract Expressionist painters, such as Ralph Arnold, William Baziotes, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, and Robert Motherwell.

Suitcase Paintings gives our visitors the opportunity to experience Abstract Expressionism on a more intimate scale,” said LUMA director Pamela Ambrose. “We know they will be amazed with how these small canvases pack a lot of punch.”



 History of Abstract Expressionism

Blue Images
Ralp Arnold 

Abstract Expressionism is said to be America’s first revolutionary artistic movement. An umbrella term, Abstract Expressionism was coined in 1946 by Robert Coates, The New Yorker magazine art critic, to describe a new form of art whose vitality and energy was expressed through paint.

“Each new Abstract Expressionist had to develop a personal painting identity that would be as recognizable as his or her name,” said April Kingsley, curator of the Kresge Art Museum and a Suitcase Paintings catalogue essayist. In fact, according to Kingsley, Abstract Expressionism doesn’t even have to be abstract, and was never completely so, with most of the artists involved in the movement alternating between complete abstraction or abstraction with biomorphic shapes or figurative references included in the composition.


Public Programs:

Fall Into Jazz at LUMA:  American Jazz from the '40s, '50s, and '60s  with the Jordan Baskin Trio
Tuesday, September 2, at Noon

Heartland International and LUMA invite you to bring a bag lunch and participate in a discussion with Wolfgang Drautz, consul general of Germany, as part of the First Tuesday lecture series. A career diplomat, Drautz has served in London, Moscow, and at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The results of the discussion will be summarized and sent to the foreign policy advisors of each of the presidential candidates, as well as the Illinois Congressional delegation. Admission is free. 

American Expressionist Energy
Saturday, September 27, at 11 a.m.

Beginning in the late 1940s, American painters began producing works that had never been attempted before: freely—without forethought or planning, and freshly—without tradition or technique. April Kingsley, curator at the Kresge Art Museum and catalogue contributor to Suitcase Paintings, will discuss de Kooning’s whiplash line, Pollock’s flying lariats of paint, and Kline’s crashing girders—all action painters in motion. Free with museum admission.

Fall into Jazz at LUMA:  American Jazz from the '40s, '50s, and '60s with the Chris White Trio
Friday, October 3, at 6 p.m.

The second installment of LUMA’s “Fall into Jazz” series features the Chris White Trio, a group of jazz performers and educators from Chicago, consisting of Chris White on piano, Mark O’Connor on tenor sax, and Mike Staron on double bass. Specializing in the music of the hard-bop era of the 1950s, the group has a unique sound that blends traditional and contemporary elements. Free with museum admission.

Fall into Jazz at LUMA:  American Jazz from the '40s, '50s, and '60s with the Jordan Baskin Trio
Friday, October 10, at 6 p.m.

LUMA’s third installment of the “Fall into Jazz” series welcomes back the Jordan Baskin Trio. Free with museum admission.

Abstract Expressionism in Chicago
Tuesday, October 14, at 6 p.m.

Though Chicago is widely thought of as a figurative art town, it has a rich tradition of abstraction reaching back to the origins of abstract art in America. Curator, writer, and Chicago gallery owner John Corbett, of Corbett vs. Dempsey, will provide an overview of gestural abstraction in the Windy City with special attention to the artists in Suitcase Paintings. Free for members and $5 for non-members.

Fall into Jazz at LUMA:  American Jazz from the '40s, '50s, and '60s with the New Millennium Orchestra Jazz Trio
Friday, October 17, at 6 p.m.

The final installment of LUMA’s “Fall into Jazz” series features the New Millennium Orchestra, a talented ensemble of musicians who excel in a wide variety of musical genres. The New Millennium Orchestra Jazz Trio includes John Smillie (drums), Dave Miller (guitar), and Dan Thatcher (bass).

Abstract Expressionism:  The Politics of "Big" and "Small"
Tuesday, October 21, at 6 p.m.

Given the generally held assumption that Abstract Expressionist art conveys meaning by overwhelming the viewer with a potent combination of color and form executed on a grand scale, what place can there be for small paintings in the same artistic movement? Often dismissed as immature, or as merely preparatory for a larger painting, these “suitcase-sized” paintings deserve further attention. Dr. Paula Wisotzki, associate professor of art history at Loyola, will investigate how these works invite—even demand—a more inclusive definition of Abstract Expressionism. Free for members and $5 for non-members.

About LUMA
Opened in 2005, the Loyola University Museum of Art is dedicated to exploring, promoting, and understanding art and artistic expression that illuminates the enduring spiritual questions of all cultures and societies. As a museum with an interest in education and educational programming, LUMA reflects the University’s Jesuit mission and is dedicated to helping people of all creeds explore the roots of their faith and spiritual quests. Located at Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus, the museum occupies the first three floors of the University’s historic Lewis Towers on Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue. For more information, visit the museum’s website at LUC.edu/luma.

Art illuminating the spirit!