On Dec. 31, the Sheldon Museum of Art will close “Now’s The Time,” the must-see exhibition of its abstraction expressionist works that is, by far, the art show of the year in Lincoln.
Conceived by Sheldon director and chief curator Wally Mason after “Yellow Band,” the museum’s Mark Rothko masterwork was exhibited in an abstract expressionist survey in London and Bilbao, Spain, “Now’s The Time” has assembled Sheldon’s holdings of work by the New York School artists.
Those holdings come from a who’s who list of mid-century artists and include stellar examples of paintings by Rothko, Barnett Newman, Hans Hofmann, Robert Motherwell, a rare Clyfford Still, striking works on paper by Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline and a pre-AB Ex painting by Jackson Pollock and post-Ab Ex pieces by Philip Guston and Lee Krasner, whose career flourished after the death of Pollock, her husband.
That’s an impressive list, regardless of the institution that owns the work and particularly so for a university museum in the middle of the country -- another example of why Sheldon is Nebraska’s art gem.
“Now’s The Time” also includes work by lesser-known artists, like Theodore Stamos, and, instructively includes a good number of pieces by women, who are generally overlooked or underrepresented in such surveys.
They include paintings by Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Hedda Sterne and sculptures from Louise Bourgeois and Louise Nevelson and a pair of new acquisitions -- Judith Godwin’s “Male Study” from 1954 and Perle Fine’s “Spinning Figure” from 1949.
Those paintings, acquired at reasonable prices as opposed to the millions it would cost to purchase a de Kooning, Pollock or Rothko, are evidence of how the women of abstract expressionism are undervalued -- in history and in the art market -- and of Sheldon’s ongoing effort to diversify its holdings.
Abstract expressionism and the New York school are, along with the work of Marcel Duchamp, tops among my historical art interests. So I’ve visited a half dozen times since it opened in late August, spending time with both the little seen works and new works and looking at how the familiar paintings interact with each other.
From those visits, I can say, even more emphatically than when I initially reviewed the show, that “Now’s The Time” is a show that should make Sheldon and Lincoln proud -- a smartly presented, vividly representative survey of the first American art movement that changed the world and continues to resonate more than a half century later.
That’s why it’s a show that shouldn’t be missed. I’ll be going back at least once more this month.
UNL sales set for Friday, Saturday
A quick reminder -- the UNL Clay Club’s fall sale and Fine Arts Photo Club’s print sale and raffle each will be held Friday and Saturday in Richards Hall.
The popular annual sales include works by graduate students, undergraduate students, alumni and faculty along with raffles for donated work, including some fine pieces made by faculty and graduate students that would sell for hundreds of dollars.
Hours for both sales are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The pottery sale will take place in Richards Hall room 118. The Photo Sale will take place in room 121. Cash, checks and credit cards will be accepted at both.