Bold Abstractions: Paintings from the Thoma Collection

Opening: Friday, Oct 11, 2019 7 – 8:30 pm
Friday, Oct 11, 2019 – Jan 26, 2020

711 N. Main St.
Rockford, IL 61103



Free public opening from 7–8:30 PM on October 11.

This major exhibition explores new forms of abstract painting from the 1960s, following the heyday of Abstract Expressionism. Highlighting color-based, geometric, and perceptual experiments, this selection of works from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation Collection includes an international group of 33 artists associated with some of the key painting movements of the mid-20th century: Color Field, Post-Painterly Abstraction, Hard-Edge, and Op Art. Bold Abstractions at Rockford Art Museum marks the first time the Thoma’s significant post-war painting collection has been shown at a public institution. 

No matter their stylistic, geographic, or conceptual affiliation, artists in the Thoma Collection are unified in their inventive use of bold colors, their limitless investigations into the effects of chromatic relationships, the immediacy of their paintings, and their intention to develop active relationships between the artwork and the observer. Some of the artists developed new techniques involving staining diluted paint right into the raw canvas while others preferred the precision of hard-edged shapes and overall, repetitive patterns that suggested movement and instability. Others worked with shaped canvases to explore the relationship between painting and object. The development of acrylic paint also contributed to the new aesthetic, an ideal medium for producing flat areas of high-key color and distinct linear elements. Informed by the decade’s spirit of experimentation and advancements in technology yet also by continuous social change and unbridled consumerism, these vivid, graphic paintings do not sit still. They invite the viewer to be an active participant, embracing vision as a catalyst for awareness. 

Bold Abstractions includes work by Josef AlbersPeter AlexanderRichard Anuszkiewicz, Antonio Asis, Karl Benjamin, Judy Chicago, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Gene Davis, Ronald Davis, Thomas Downing, Friedel Dzubas, Wojciech Fangor, Lorser Feitelson, Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Gilliam, Frederick Hammersley, June Harwood,Charles Hinman, Paul Jenkins, Julio Le Parc, Morris Louis, Alvin Loving, Helen Lundeberg, John McLaughlin, Ed Mieczkowski, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Matilde Perez, Paul Reed, Julian Stanczak,Tadasky, Anne Truitt, and Victor Vasarely

The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation was founded in 2014 and is based in Chicago and Santa Fe. The Thoma Foundation recognizes the power of the arts to challenge and shift perceptions, spark creativity and connect people across cultures.

This exhibition is organized by Rockford Art Museum Curator Carrie Johnson. Support for Bold Abstractions and its related programming—including free daily admission to all visitors for the duration of the exhibition—provided by the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation. On view October 11, 2019–January 26, 2020 at Rockford Art Museum,located inside the Riverfront Museum Park at 711 North Main Street in downtown Rockford, Illinois.


Image: Paul Reed (1919–2015), Margem, 1968, acrylic on shaped canvas. Collection of Carl & Marilynn Thoma. © Paul Reed, courtesy of the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, photo by Kim Richardson.