Affinities for Abstraction:
Women Artists on Eastern Long Island, 1950-2020
May 2–July 25, 2021
This summer, the Parrish Art Museum presents Affinities for Abstraction: Women Artists on Eastern Long Island, 1950-2020, a freewheeling look at the work of 45 artists who have called the Hamptons home for a week, a season, or a lifetime. Organized by the Museum’s Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator Alicia G. Longwell, Ph.D., the exhibition tells the sweeping story of artists with ties to the region who have expanded and exploited the language of abstraction.
Often regarded as playing an ancillary role in male-dominated Abstract Expressionism, five painters of the first and second generations of the movement, recently canonized in author Mary Gabriel’s in-depth account Ninth Street Women, spent formative years on the East End. Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, and Joan Mitchell, each in her own way, staked out territory for a unique style by inventively pushing the boundaries of their collective agency—well reflected in de Kooning’s famous pronouncement: “Painting. . . is primarily a verb, not a noun.”
With works drawn from the Parrish collection augmented by key loans, Affinities for Abstraction will present a nuanced history of both the period and the waves of artists who have come to Long Island’s East End—a place that continues to offer proximity, camaraderie, and leisure combined with great natural beauty. The exhibition will include a look at successive generations including Mary Heilmann, Howardena Pindell, and Michelle Stuart, and more recent arrivals Jacqueline Humphries and Amy Sillman, among many others.