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This major exhibition explores new forms of abstract painting from the 1960s, following the heyday of Abstract Expressionism. Highlighting color-based, geometric, and perceptual experiments, this selection of works from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation Collection includes an international group of 33 artists associated with some of the key painting movements of the mid-20th century: Color Field, Post-Painterly Abstraction, Hard-Edge, and Op Art. Bold Abstractions at Rockford Art Museum marks the first time the Thoma’s significant post-war painting collection has been shown at a public institution.

No matter their stylistic, geographic, or conceptual affiliation, artists in the Thoma Collection are unified in their inventive use of bold colors, their limitless investigations into the effects of chromatic relationships, the immediacy of their paintings, and their intention to develop active relationships between the artwork and the observer. Some of the artists developed new techniques involving staining diluted paint right into the raw canvas while others preferred the precision of hard-edged shapes and overall, repetitive patterns that suggested movement and instability. Others worked with shaped canvases to explore the relationship between painting and object. The development of acrylic paint also contributed to the new aesthetic, an ideal medium for producing flat areas of high-key color and distinct linear elements. Informed by the decade’s spirit of experimentation and advancements in technology yet also by continuous social change and unbridled consumerism, these vivid, graphic paintings do not sit still. They invite the viewer to be an active participant, embracing vision as a catalyst for awareness.

Bold Abstractions includes work by Josef AlbersPeter AlexanderRichard AnuszkiewiczAntonio AsisKarl BenjaminJudy ChicagoCarlos Cruz-DiezGene DavisRonald DavisThomas DowningFriedel DzubasWojciech FangorLorser FeitelsonHelen FrankenthalerSam GilliamFrederick HammersleyJune HarwoodCharles HinmanPaul JenkinsJulio Le ParcMorris LouisAlvin LovingHelen LundebergJohn McLaughlinEd MieczkowskiKenneth NolandJules OlitskiMatilde PerezPaul ReedJulian StanczakTadaskyAnne Truitt, and Victor Vasarely.

The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation was founded in 2014 and is based in Chicago and Santa Fe. The Thoma Foundation recognizes the power of the arts to challenge and shift perceptions, spark creativity and connect people across cultures.

This exhibition is organized by Rockford Art Museum Curator Carrie Johnson. Support for Bold Abstractions and its related programming—including free daily admission to all visitors for the duration of the exhibition—provided by the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation.

Image: Paul Reed (1919–2015), Margem, 1968, acrylic on shaped canvas. Collection of Carl & Marilynn Thoma. © Paul Reed, courtesy of the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, photo by Kim Richardson.

Rockford Art Museum

711 North Main Street

Rockford, Illinois 61103



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