Restless Gestures. Works from the Hubert Looser Collection
23 June 2017–7 January 2018
The National Gallery
This year’s exhibition program at the National Gallery has been devoted to American art. First in line was the graphic art exhibition “The Great Graphic Boom”. It is now followed by “Restless Gestures. Works from the Hubert Looser Collection”, with paintings, sculptures and drawings by some of the most significant artists of the 20th century.
This summer and fall some of the most famous names in American art will fill the National Gallery. “Restless Gestures. Works from the Hubert Looser Collection” presents works by artists who have seldom been shown in Norway, such as Willem de Kooning, Cy Twombly, Arshile Gorky, David Smith, Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Ryman, Richard Serra, Sean Scully, Brice Marden, Rebecca Horn, etc. The works stem primarily from the collection of the Swiss entrepreneur and philanthropist Hubert Looser – considered among the finer private collection in Central-Europe.
A Condensed Historical Presentation
The exhibition consists of approximately 50 works dating from 1930 to today, and represents a condensed historical presentation of significant art movements of the last century: Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, as well as more recent forms of abstraction. In addition, it includes a small selection of Norwegian works that reflect these movements, by artists such as Anna-Eva Bergman, Jakob Weidemann and Fredrik Værslev.
Dripping, smearing and throwing paint
The exhibition examines how the artists’ gestures have changed character and significance throughout the 20th century. Gestures are most often associated with symbolic acts, but in this context they refer to the artist’s physical working of the piece. Attention was brought to this phenomenon among others by Irving Sandler in his book The Triumph of American Painting (1970). In it, some forms of Abstract Expressionism were characterised as gesture painting, created by artists who emphasised the very process of dripping, smearing and throwing paint onto the canvas.
Organised into four chapters, the exhibition demonstrates how different attitudes about artistic gesture contributed to forminging Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and more recent abstract art. The presentation begins with the doodled gestures in David Smith’s surrealistic drawings, and continues with the exuberant brushstrokes of the Abstract Expressionist Willem de Kooning. The next section of the exhibition treats the minimalists’ attempts to eradicate all traces of physical gestures, and ends with Cy Twombly’s and Al Taylor’s works, where the traces left by gesture no longer reflects back on the artist’s persona, but instead create poetic, enigmatic and humorous narratives about everything from mushrooms to dogs peeing on the sidewalks of Paris.
“Restless Gestures: Works from the Hubert Looser Collection” is the first of many exhibitions the Department of Contemporary Art is mounting in the National Gallery before the move to the new National Museum opening in 2020.
Artists from the Hubert Looser Collection
Serge Brignoni, Anthony Caro, John Chamberlain, Arshile Gorky, Philip Guston, Rebecca Horn, Roni Horn, Ellsworth Kelly, Lenz Klotz, Willem de Kooning, Yayoi Kusama, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman, Kurt Seligmann, Sean Scully, David Smith, Richard Serra, Al Taylor, Cy Twombly, Fabienne Verdier.
Artists from the National Museum’s Collection
Anna-Eva Bergman, Bjarne Rise, Jacob Schmidt, Fredrik Værslev, Jakob Weidemann