Rockwell and Realism in an Abstract World

Exhibition Website

Jun 17 2016 - Oct 30 2016

The essence of tradition is to invite the challenge that redefines it, and after many years on the periphery, realism has been reinvigorated by contemporary artists who see it as a way to address the experiences of living in our complex world. In post-World War II America, however, the primacy of abstract art was clearly acknowledged, and by 1961, when Norman Rockwell painted The Connoisseur―his visual treatise on the subject juxtaposing Jackson Pollock’s nonrepresentational art with his own illusionistic imagery―Abstract Expressionism had been covered in the popular press for nearly fifteen years. By the mid-1950s, abstraction had successfully attracted collectors and critics whose passion for these visceral, less readable artworks was in itself noteworthy. This seismic shift in the art world also impacted the world of illustration, as many prominent practitioners championed more expressive, symbolic, and metaphoric approaches to their work.

Rockwell and Realism in an Abstract World examines the forces that inspired the relegation of narrative painting, and especially the art of illustration, to a lesser status by mid-century. It also explores the resurgence of realist painting during the latter half of the twentieth century, its presence and critical consideration today, and the ways in which our contemporary viewpoints have been shaped by post World War II constructs. This eclectic installation features the art of prominent illustrators, painters, and sculptors whose autographic art spans more than sixty years, representing many dynamic forms of visual communication.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

Click on the above link for a complete list of artists

  • American
  • 20th Century
  • Norman Rockwell
  • Jackson Pollock
  • Andy Warhol
  • Barnett Newman
  • Robert Rauschenberg
  • Roy Lichtenstein
  • Jeff Koons
  • Alice Neel
  • Andrew Wyeth
  • Robert Motherwell
  • Alexander Calder
  • and others

Exhibition Venues & Dates