Lee Krasner (1908-1984), Still Life, 1938. Oil on paper, 19 × 24 3/4 in. (48.3 × 62.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase in honor of Charles Simon, with funds given by his friends from Salomon Brothers on the occasion of his 75th birthday, and with funds from an anonymous donor and the Drawing Committee 90.19. © 2021 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

During the 1930s and 1940s, abstraction began to solidify as an exciting, fresh form of modern artmaking in the United States, and a small assortment of American artists dedicated themselves to it. Labyrinth of Forms, a title drawn from an Alice Trumbull Mason work in this exhibition, alludes to the sense of discovery that drove these artists’ attempts to establish a visual form that reflected the advances of the twentieth century.

Many of these abstractionists were women, and they played important roles in propelling the formal, technical, and conceptual evolution of abstract art in this country. While a few of these artists, like Lee Krasner and Louise Nevelson, have been duly recognized, most remain overlooked in spite of their prominence within this burgeoning movement. With thirty-five works by twenty-six artists drawn almost entirely from the Whitney’s permanent collection, Labyrinth of Forms seeks to highlight the achievements of these artists and explores the ways in which works on paper, in particular, were important sites for experimentation and innovation.

Labyrinth of Forms: Women and Abstraction, 1930–1950 is curated by Sarah Humphreville, Senior Curatorial Assistant. 

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