Making the Museum of Non-Objective Painting: The Birth of the Guggenheim

Press Release, Jun 1, 2016
"I saw in this art a medium for the American painter to exceed the past."
-Solomon R. Guggenheim


San Francisco, CA—Weinstein Gallery is proud to present Making the Museum of Non-Objective Painting: The Birth of the Guggenheim, opening on the 78th anniversary of the museum’s founding on June 1, 2017 and running through June 30, 2017. This exhibition includes rarely seen masterpieces from Hilla Rebay, Rudolf Bauer, László Moholy-Nagy, Charles Green Shaw, Rolph Scarlett, Penrod Centurion, Irene Rice Pereira, Raymond Jonson, John Ferren, John Sennhauser, Albert Gleizes, Lloyd Ney, Ilya Bolotowsky, Emil Bisttram, Alice Trumbull Mason, and Alice Mattern, with works portraying the rise and development of non-objective painting, spanning from 1916 to 1951.

This sweeping survey exhibition seeks to exhume from historical misappropriation non-objective painting as a movement of European abstraction re-homed in the vertiginous violence of WWII to the streets of Manhattan and as a historical event in the history of art whose legacy singularly influenced the rise of abstract expressionism in the following generation. It traces the oeuvres of a lost generation of artists whose work nonetheless formed the basis and informed the vision of the founding collection of Solomon R Guggenheim: also known as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting.

Non-objective painting is not simply abstraction by another name, but a distinct movement arisen from the desire to divorce abstract painting from its derivative reliance upon objects in the world, whose mundane existence was considered insufficient for manifestations of spiritual expression. Arguably reaching its apogee between the mid-1930s to mid-1940s, the movement of non-objective painting sought instead to lend color and form to the immaterial experiences of the musical and the mystical. Drawing from the theoretical musings and biomorphic forms of Kandinsky or the utopian urges and cubist tableaux of Albert Gleizes, the work of Rebay and Bauer, Scarlett and Ferren, Rice Pereira and Shaw all contributed to the development of a pioneering ideology and compelling, unique aesthetic, replete with symbolic, angular, and rhythmic geometries.