A ‘Treasure Hunt’ Led To ‘Women Of Abstract Expressionism’ Exhibit

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<p>(Courtesy&nbsp;Elaine de&nbsp;<span data-scayt-word="Kooning" data-scayt-lang="en_US">Kooning</span>&nbsp;Trust)</p>
<p>Elaine de Kooning, Bullfight, 1959. Oil on canvas; 77-5/8× 131-1/4× 1-1/8 in. Denver Art Museum: Vance H. Kirkland Acquisition Fund. © Elaine de Kooning Trust</p>

This story first aired on August 4, 2016.

Men receive much of the attention in abstract expressionism, a movement from the 1940s and 50s known for large, bold paintings, and for big names like Jackson Pollock and Clyfford Still. The Denver Art Museum wanted to tell a fuller story.

"Women of Abstract Expressionism," on view through Sept. 25, highlights 12 female painters. It is the first presentation of works by these artists at one time.

DAM curator of modern art Gwen Chanzit says she got the idea for the exhibition after seeing an exhibition of works of abstract expressionism at the Jewish Museum in New York City in 2008. Several of the featured artists had been largely left out of important art history books, so putting together the show became a "treasure hunt," she says.

"I would talk to one person, who would tell me about another person, and it would go on and on that way."

New York painter Perle Fine was "one of the great surprises," says Chanzit.

"Why has Perle Fine not been better known? It's a mystery to me. Her paintings are spectacular."

Chanzit spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

The Center for Visual Art at Metropolitan State University in Denver has also turned its attention to women in the art world. "Colorado Women in Abstraction" showcases past and current female artists, who have left their mark on abstract contemporary art in the state. The exhibition runs through Oct. 1.