• Sean Scully, The Moroccan, 1982, oil on canvas, 112 x 63 inches. Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art,
    Kansas City, Missouri. Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection, Gift of the R. C. Kemper Charitable Trust, 2006.21.
    © Sean Scully

    Sean Scully, The Moroccan, 1982, oil on canvas, 112 x 63 inches. Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art,
    Kansas City, Missouri. Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection, Gift of the R. C. Kemper Charitable Trust, 2006.21.
    © Sean Scully

Abstracted Wonders: The Power of Lines

Friday, November 30, 2018 to Sunday, March 17, 2019
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Abstracted Wonders: The Power of Lines presents a selection of abstract works from Kemper Museum’s Permanent Collection. The featured artists employ artistic approaches from kinetic art, geometric abstraction, Color Field, and Op (optical) art. Geometry and patterns in geography like those made by land and water inform horizontal, vertical, and perpendicular lines in these two- and three-dimensional works.

Two recently acquired Original Designs for Gemini Sculpture (1972) by Josef Albers are studies for his installation at UMB Bank, which was commissioned by Kemper Museum co-founder R. Crosby Kemper Jr. The completed sculpture is visible on the Grand Boulevard façade of UMB Bank in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. These studies were part of Albers’s larger series titled Structural Constellations—works that were meant to contradict geometry by creating two-dimensional works of art that could never exist in three dimensions. Through this series, Albers achieved the primary goal of Op art: to produce effects that confuse and excite the eye. 

Suzanne Caporael offers abstract observations of several bodies of water in three original hand-painted lithographs: Sapelo Island Creek, Georgia (2003); Jade Bay, North Sea, Germany (2003); and Dutch Wadden Zee (2003). Caporael studied these places and abstracted them in hopes of what she calls “defining the natural world.” Her descriptive titles help situate the viewer and interpret the geographical perspectives of her works.

Sean Scully is influenced by the Color Field artists of the late 1940s, who used the expressive power of color to reveal emotional states of mind, and the Fauves of the early twentieth century, who employed intense colors to explore light and space. Scully combines these objectives in The Moroccan (1982), a painting that showcases his philosophy that seemingly incongruous things exist side by side. The yellow and red lines invoke Moroccan sand and spices like saffron and paprika, respectively, while the thinner black and white lines may be interpreted as representing Scully.

Abstracted Wonders: The Power of Lines allows viewers the opportunity to see how lines create energy and narratives that can be used to impact our perspective of the natural world. Abstracted Wonders: The Power of Lines is curated by Jade Powers, assistant curator at Kemper Museum.