Critiques of Pure Abstraction

  • Annette Lemieux, Black Mass, 1991. Courtesy of the artist and Collection Emily Fisher Landau.

  • John Baldessari, A Two-Dimensional Surface Without Any Explanation is a Dead Experience , 1967. Courtesy of artist.

  • Critiques Of Pure Abstraction, Installation View, Blaffer Gallery, Houston, Texas, 1995.

  • Critiques Of Pure Abstraction, Installation View, Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1997.

  • Critiques Of Pure Abstraction, Installation View, Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA, Los Angeles, California, 1996.

Curated by Mark Rosenthal

Critiques of Pure Abstraction presents the work of 20 artists who practice various forms of pure abstraction. Some of them mock the style, or seek to reform it, in order to respond to contemporary issues and social concerns; others investigate its basic nature. Their various approaches favor an analytical, pragmatic, ironic, or even cynical point of view. In his catalogue essay Mark Rosenthal observes, “It is noteworthy ... that the individuals discussed here have not so much chosen to do away with their predecessors imagery as to reinterpret and reform it.”


Accompanying this exhibition is the catalogue, “Critiques on Pure Abstraction,” edited by Mark Rosenthal and published by Independent Curators International (ICI). Please click here or visit our shop for more information.



Mark Rosenthal

Mark Rosenthal is a curator, author and art historian currently based in Detroit where he currently serves as the adjunct curator for contemporary art for the Detroit Institute of the Arts.  He has previously held curatorial positions at Berkeley, Philadelphia Museum, National Gallery of Art, as well as adjunct positions at the Guggenheim Museum, Menil Collection and Detroit Institute of Arts. Rosenthal has curated such exhibits as Joseph Beuys: Actions, Vitrines, Environments, Picasso: The Early Years, Damien Hirst: The Bilotti Paintings, The Surreal Calder and retrospectives of Philip Guston, Juan Gris, William Kentridge, and Jonathan Borofsky. Rosenthal also curated monograph exhibitions of Anselm Kiefer and Jasper Johns. He holds a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Iowa.


touring schedule

Fredrick R. Weisman Museum
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
April 3, 1997 - June 15, 1997

Crocker Art Museum
Sacremento, California, United States
March 29, 1996 - May 5, 1996

UCLA at Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center
Los Angeles, California, United States
January 20, 1996 - March 1, 1996

Illingworth Kerr Gallery
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
August 17, 1995 - October 14, 1995

Sarah Campbell Blaffer Gallery
Houston, Texas, United States
January 28, 1995 - March 26, 1995

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