Abstract Expressionism: The Impact of Display

Installation view: Paintings by Mark Rothko at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
Installation view: Paintings by Mark Rothko at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

Paul Carey Kent reviews and compares two versions of the exhibition Abstract Expressionism, first on view at the at the Royal Academy, London this past fall and currently on view at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain (through June 4, 2017).

Kent concludes: "In all respects, then, Bilbao was superior to London, and what had seemed something of a missed opportunity to make the most of the material proved to be a chance taken after all. I also have to conclude that the manner of display made more difference to me than I might have predicted. The viewer, the location and the work are all important, of course, but perhaps the spread of significance across the three factors is more even than I had previously supposed. It’s made me suspect that, when you have no direct comparison to make, environmental factors may be at work more than you realise in your other judgements."