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Fields of Abstraction

  • Date iconFebruary 3 2022 - October 22 2022
  • Curator: Dr. Adina Kamien
           Assistant Curator: Sarah Benshushan
  • Designers: Alexandra Topaz, Ariel Armoni
  • Ayala Zacks Abramov Pavilion and The Design Pavilion

Abstract art extracts the essential elements from something more visually complex – objects, scenes, events, or even experiences. Although freed from the burden of representation, it remains rooted in the real world. Some abstractions bear traces of their origin in a figurative composition, while others are closer to pure form. All express a response to personal, social, political, and cultural realities.

Organized as three experiential areas – Contemplative Expanses, Energetic Surfaces, and Geometric Balance – this exhibition offers an immersive space that invites the viewer’s gaze to roam free. Videos of artists filmed in the act of painting are integrated with the artworks, providing insight into the variety of creative, bodily, and material processes involved in making abstract art.

Fields of Abstraction showcases large-scale abstract works culled from the Israel Museum's collection, dating from 1949 through 2016. It features postwar North-American, European, and Israeli artists who strove to expand the experience of their art through an exploration of materials, gestures, and surfaces, among them Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollock, Pierre Soulages and Tsibi Geva.

Celebrating personal expression, this second wave of abstraction developed non-representational artistic languages such as Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Art Informel, and Minimalism, building on what the pioneers of abstraction (like Kandinsky, Mondrian, and Malevich) had achieved in the early twentieth century. By integrating new painting materials and methods, as well as non-Western sources of influence such as Japanese calligraphy, the post-World-War II generation forged fresh pathways to the abstract.

The exhibition website accompanying Fields of Abstraction leads the visitor through various movements of abstraction, artist by artist. Scanning QR codes throughout the exhibition will lead you to artist pages with enlargeable images, analyses of artworks, and links to written, visual, and auditory materials that will deepen your understanding of abstraction.


The exhibition and its website were made possible by Nancy Wald, Oxford, in honor and in memory of her parents, Benjamin and Frances Miller



Helen Frankenthaler, American, 1928–2011, Grand Tour, 1983, Acrylic on canvas, 246 x 362 cm, Gift of Maureen and Marshall Cogan, New York, to American Friends of the Israel Museum, B85.0936
Helen Frankenthaler © 2022 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York