Making Visible the Invisible: Abstract Art from MMoCA’s Permanent Collection
September 8, 2007 to July 13, 2008

The paintings, sculpture, and works on paper in the Henry Street Gallery explore the tradition of abstraction in the visual arts. Abstract art is an expression of pure form and color, analogous to music. It has carried a rich variety of meanings since its inception in the second decade of the twentieth century, and its history continues to the present. The exhibition will be on view through July 13, 2008.

Abstract art was a radical departure in Western art. For nearly five centuries, art had been based upon faithful recreations of the visible world as seen by the human eye. This core idea, initiated by the Italian Renaissance, was challenged in the later nineteenth century by the Post-Impressionists. They argued in through their paintings that non-naturalistic color and exaggerated shape could portray the feelings of the artist toward his subject. It was only a short time before artists of a new generation allowed expressive color and form to stand on their own, pried free from describing the perceived world.

Making Visible the Invisible reveals abstract art to have a language of great stylistic breadth that yields ambitious meaning in a series of dialects: geometricbiomorphic, and gestural. As a challenge to the senses and the mind, abstract art has received interpretations from both artists and critics that range from the perceptual to the metaphysical. These selected works from MMoCA’s permanent collection demonstrate the array of poetic meanings that have been ascribed to abstract forms, including a concern for the effect of abstract shape on our perceptions; a wish to map conceptual structures; and attempts to make visible the invisible world of nature’s underlying patterns and forces.

Exhibitions in the Henry Street Gallery are generously funded through an endowment established by the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation.


"Art Talk: Do you prefer abstract or realistic art?" by Jacob Stockinger, 
November 9, 2007 The Capital Times »