Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy, London SW1

The audio guide for this show was a good introduction if, like me, you didn’t really know anything about Abstract Expressionism as a movement. It quoted Jackson Pollock as saying:

‘I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them.’

One of the most interesting things I learned was how controlled the apparently random methods that Pollock and others used actually were. I think I had always imagined this was so; the slightest experience of trying supposedly ‘random’ approaches soon tells you that they aren’t as simple as they look.

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I enjoyed discovering the artists I didn’t know before, like Clyfford Still whose massive coloured canvases, like the one below, filled one of the rooms. Wolfgang Tillmans talked of  the ‘co-existence of chance and control’ in these works. Their immersive quality is related to that of Rothko’s works but these are less serene and more vigorous.

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I had also not been aware of Robert Motherwell, whose Elegy to the Spanish Republic, no 26 filled the wall of one gallery.