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Female artist Abrams finally awarded own retrospective


Emma Caddow
WVoN co-editor

Jewish female artist Ruth Abrams is being honoured with her own retrospective at the Yeshiva University in New York.

The late artist was regarded as a contemporary to some of recent history’s most acclaimed painters – such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

Her contemporaries in Abstract Expressionism were widely recognised for the misogyny expressed in their paintings.

Although described by the New York Times as a “woman unfairly neglected in a macho era” back in 1986, the Brooklyn born artist has still never had an exhibition of her own – until now.

The retrospective aims to restore her place in history alongside her contemporaries in the Abstract Expressionist movement.

Abrams was famous for her “Microcosms” series, painted during the 1950s to 1970s, which explored the immensity and limitless of outer space.

In a time when the possibility of space travel was opening up, many male Abstract Expressionists conveyed the magnitude of the topic by using large-scale canvasses.

But Abram created paradoxically tiny pieces, as small as two by three inches, to convey the impression of infinite space.

Curator Reba Wulkan said: “These tiny paintings brought her work to a new level.”

The university will display more than 70 of these small-scale works – many for the first time.

The exhibition will also showcase large-scale color landscapes, still lifes, abstract portraits, collages and other work from Abrams’ 40-year career.

Yeshiva University Museum holds the largest institutional repository of Abrams’ work, together with a significant archive of her letters, press clippings and personal papers.

The director, Dr. Jacob Wisse, said:

“It’s a privilege for us to bring this fascinating and overlooked artist to the attention of the public.

“We think Abrams’ studies of light, color and scale will be revelatory to people already familiar with the Ab-Ex movement; her intense and sensitive evocations of nature and the human form, and her ambitious studies of the cosmic sphere provide a distinct face of the movement.”

The Huffington Post wrote:

“Between her knowledge of art’s past and courage to thrust her work into its future, Abrams deserves to take her rightful place amongst female artists like Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning and Joan Mitchell.”

Microcosms: Ruth Abrams, Abstract Expressionist will be shown at Yeshiva University Museum from August 12, 2012 to January 6, 2013.

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