African American Abstract Masters

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • February 05, 2010

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Anita Shapolsky Gallery presents a dynamic group of abstract paintings by ten master African American artists.

   Betty Blayton, Frank Bowling, Ed Clark, Herbert Gentry, Bill Hutson, Sam Middleton, Joe Overstreet, Thomas Sills, Merton Simpson, and Frank Wimberley. 

Do You Know These Artists? Why Not?

 Anita Shapolsky Gallery presents a group exhibition “African American Abstract Masters” opening on Saturday, February 6, 2010 and curated by Dr. Mary Anne Rose. In celebration of Black History month, we are presenting a dynamic group of abstract paintings by ten master African American artists. Born between 1914 and 1937, these artists spent significant periods of their careers based in New York City and are represented in national and international museum and private collections.

The paintings on exhibition display an arresting variety of approaches and aesthetic influences with Abstract Expressionist roots. Many of the artists in this exhibition established their art careers living abroad. Jazz was another influence on their philosophies of abstraction and practice. Spanning five decades, each artist’s work evolved through energetic and direct exploration of color, materials, gesture, and space.

Organic shape and translucent color merge in fluid motion on Betty Blayton’s tondo-shaped canvases. Frank Bowling pours paint to build up thick variegated surfaces on his canvases, sometimes embellishing these encrusted expanses with relief elements.  Ed Clark replaces his paintbrush with a push-broom to increase the speed of the stroke as it bears through poured paint. Herbert Gentry approaches the canvas with expressionist conviction in the subconscious intent of his gestures and marks from which he derives an iconography of human relationships. Bill Hutson paints and reconstructs paintings with richly colored, intricate surfaces from collage elements of interrelated forms, shapes and symbols. Deeply inspired by jazz music, Sam Middleton utilizes improvisational brush strokes and splashes of color in his melodic collages. Joe Overstreet integrates painting with sculptural space using meaning-laden materials that reference both painting and the human condition. Inspired by mosaic color and surface, Thomas Sills combines a provocative sense of color with innovative use of media in his abstract compositions. Merton Simpson activates fields of smoky greens, reds, and greys, subtly punctuating his canvases with gestures, marks, and geometric elements of contrasting color and texture. Frank Wimberley expresses his impulse for improvisation in swift brushwork and lively tactile surfaces.

February 6, 2010 – April 24, 2010

Reception: February 6, 3-6 PM

 At this point the exhibition will be on view at two other venues: Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba, 219 East Second Street, NY, NY 10009, February 21 – April 24, 2010 and Opalka Gallery, The Sage Colleges, 140 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, NY 12208, November 5 – December 12, 2010

For more information, please contact the gallery at 



Anita Shapolsky Gallery and Art Foundation
152 E 65th Street (patio entrance)
New York, New York

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