Knotted, Torn, Scattered

Sculpture after Abstract Expressionism

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue
Visitors must reserve timed tickets in advance.
New York
Upper East Side
Oct 3rd 2020 — Sep 19th 2021

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Drawn from the Guggenheim collection, the artists on view in “Knotted, Torn, Scattered”—Lynda Benglis, Maren Hassinger, Robert Morris, Senga Nengudi, Richard Serra, and Tony Smith—respond to the legacy of post-war abstract expressionist painting through sculpture.

Like the spirited dashes of abstract expressionism painting, Morris’s layered felt sculptures give way to gravity, but traces of the hand are largely elided. This is in stark contrast to Benglis’s Juliet (1974) nearby, which is knotted, paint-streaked, and belabored; its title calls to mind the tortured lead of Shakespeare. The artists also work together in unexpected ways: Nengudi employs Hassenger to activate her nylon pantyhose installations. Serra’s Belts (1966-7)[pictured] is perhaps the most explicit link to Abstract Expressionism: he describes the work as an attempt to draw a three-dimensional Jackson Pollock, and its neon element draws a bright line in space. Pollock, the inarguable lodestar of the exhibition, is not present in the gallery—but, this being the Guggenheim, the monumental Mural (1943) hangs right next door.

Richard Serra, Belts, 1966–67. Vulcanized rubber and neon, approximately 6 feet 8 inches x 16 feet 6 inches x 1 foot 8 inches (203.2 x 502.9 x 50.8 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Panza Collection, 91.3863. © 2020 Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.