White Cube London Celebrates Legendary Abstract Expressionist Al Held

‘About Space’ is on view at its Bermondsey location until September 1, 2024.

Exhibitions

White Cube is showcasing a new solo exhibition on the American Abstract Expressionist Al Held at its Bermondsey location in London. About Space covers Held’s 50 year exploration into the complexity between color, form and space.

Held, who is widely considered as one of the pioneers of Abstract Expressionism, burst into the art scene following his military service in 1947, carrying an aesthetic similar to Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock, but also that of Hard-Edge artists Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly. Unlike his contemporaries, however, Held fused tenants used by each of the figures previously mentioned, resulting in massive wall-to-wall acrylic paintings occupying an almost hallucinatory altered dimension, where varying shapes contour across an endless void of colors — or lack of color altogether.

Standouts exhibiting at White Cube include Roberta’s Trip II (1986), which as its title alludes to, appears like a Microsoft screensaver with unnerving forms colored in muddied hits of orange, blue and purple — as does Eagle Rock IV (2004) and Fourteen and Four Fifths (1997). Stripped of its color, Black Nile VII (1974) centers on the geometries of circles, squares and triangles, as his lines and shapes imbue unmoored and paradoxical viewpoints.

By introducing Renaissance perspectives back into painting, Held conflated three-dimensional elements into the flattened plane of the canvas surface. “I would like to develop from this not by going inwards toward the old horizon, but outward toward the spectator,” Held previously explained in a 1958 interview. “The space between the canvas and the spectator is real—emotionally, physically, and logically. It exists as an actual extension of the canvas surface. I would like to use it as such and thus bridge the gulf that separates the painter from the viewer.”

About Space will be on view in London until September 1, 2024.

White Cube
144 – 152 Bermondsey Street
London SE1 3TQ

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