University of New Hampshire Art Gallery

Durham, NH



Against The Grain: The Second Generation of Boston Expressionism

October 28 - December 17, 2000


An important exhibition of Boston art will be on view in The Art Gallery at the University of New Hampshire in the fall of 2000. Featured are twenty-one artists who came into prominence in the 1950's and 60's and whose work evolved from the Boston Expressionist philosophy. The show will be the first time the work by this generation of Boston artists has been comprehensively examined. The term Boston Expressionism was coined in the 1940's to describe the work of Boston's three best known artists: Hyman Bloom, Jack Levine and Karl Zerbe. These artists, whose work had achieved national recognition, came to be known as the first generation of Boston Expressionism. They produced work that was shockingly different from the genteel work of older established Boston artists, such as John Singer Sargent and Edmund C. Tarbell. Although the Boston Expressionists differed stylistically from one another, they were linked by their interest in humanism. Their work was the beginning of a long tradition of humanist expressive work in Boston.

Against the Grain focuses on the younger artists who were influenced by Bloom, Levine, and Zerbe. The show examines how this second generation of artists manifested the ideas and themes of the earliest Boston Expressionists. Artists like Arnold Trachtman pursued the biting political and social path started by Jack Levine, while Arthur Polonsky's mythical and spiritual work is akin to that of Hyman Bloom. David Aronson's early work shows the positive influence of his teacher, Karl Zerbe, who introduced students at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts to the work of the prominent German Expressionists. (left: Arthur Polonsky, Man With Pheasant, 1955, oil on linen, 40 1/2 x 30 inches)

This exhibition includes eighteen works from the collection of The Art Gallery, University of New Hampshire, supplemented by works from public and private collections throughout New England. An accompanying brochure will include an introductory essay by guest curator Evan Ide and color reproductions of several of the works. Return to this site closer to the time of the exhibition for a schedule of programs that will be organized in conjunction with the exhibition. (left: Mitchell Siporin, The Performers I, n.d., engraving (1/17), 13 7/8 x 9 7/8 inches)

"This is a rare opportunity to see many of Boston's important figurative expressionists together in one show," explains Ide. Not only were these artists joined by the same artistic philosophies, but also by friendship." Rejecting the abstract expressionist style of artists like Jackson Pollock, the Boston Expressionists worked "against the grain," retaining the figurative element in their work.

Pamela Edwards Allara of the Fine Arts Department at Tufts University, wrote, "The expressionist artist deals with private, not public concerns, and his belief that these two areas can be separated is based on the perpetuation of the Romantic myth of the artist as isolated and frequently misunderstood. Expressionism in Boston is a belief system. It is the evidence of a consistent set of assumptions about the function of art, which has been molded by the city's cultural climate."

Read more about the University of New Hampshire Art Gallery in Resource Library Magazine

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/6/11

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