The exhibition Three Americans. Al Held, Nicholas Krushenick, Kimber Smith is a cooperation between Galerie Mueller in Basel (September 8th until October 20th 2018) and Galerie Ziegler in Zurich (September 15th until November 16th 2018). For the first time in Switzerland it unites works by the three American painters Al Held, Nicholas Krushenick and Kimber Smith. Switzerland played an important part in the lives of all three artists. Each gallery shows the work of two artists at length and one work of the third artist as a reference respectively. The work of all three artists was affected by an intense exploration of painting, the use of color and acrylic in particular, the play with form and surface and their relationship with canvas or paper.
Galerie Mueller focuses on Krushenick and Smith. In the artist-run-spaces of Manhattan and in close exchange and friendship with Al Held, Krushenick in the 1950s developed his own form of Pop Art, Pop Abstraction, while Smith starting from 1954 in Paris created his own version of lyrical Abstract Expression-ism. In Basel Felix Handschin showed Smith's works already at the beginning of the 1960s in his gallery, while Galerie Beyeler showed Krushenick's works as late as 1971 at the height of the artist's professional career. Galerie Mueller begins its exhibition activity with the pairing of these two tendencies of American post war painting: Smith came out of Abstract Expressionism, all be it with a Parisian coining, Krushenick was the only Pop artist, who succeeded in combining the popular with abstraction in painting.
The opening at Galerie Mueller will take place on September 7th 2018 at 6pm.
Al Held (1928-2005) was a Brooklyn born American painter and important representative of the second generation of ab-stract expressionism. At the end of the 1950s he exhibited in Brata Gallery in Manhattan, run by the Krusehnick brothers. In his painting he developed concrete and geometric forms with hard edges and was therefor quickly associated with Hard Edge painters such as Elsworth Kelly and Frank Stella. By the end of the 1960s he his focus in his painting shifted towards space and volume. An ongoing topic were the dimensions of his canvases. Al Held is represented in Galerie Mueller with the work Quetzalcoatl (1966).
Nicholas Krushenick (1929-1999) was born in Brooklyn and is commonly thought of as the most prominent representative of in Pop Art until today less con-sidered abstraction. After his studies at the Art Students Lea-gue in New York and his time as the founder of Brate Gallery in Manhattan he decided he deci-ded by the end of the 1950s to give up figurative painting in favour of an original form of abstraction. After experiments with collage and first paintings and drawings with overlaying and overlapping coloured forms (invented or found), Krushenick's interest in "hard edges" grew ra-pidly. His access was the combi-nation of collage and painting. Overlap and clear planar separa-tions are main characteristics for his work. From early his signa-ture style was very successful in the US and Europe.
Boston born Kimber Smith (1922-1981) was the oldest of the three artists and his style of painting is to be situated closely with Abstract Expressionism. After his training in New York at the Art Students League and first exhibition successes he moved to Paris in 1954 where he stayed until 1964. In this decade he developed his own conception of painting as a synthesis of lyrical abstraction strongly inspired by Paris and his roots in New York's Abstract Expressionism. The painterly and the treatment of the canvas are as important as the use of signs and symbols. Besides the material of painting he cared a great deal about the spiritual aspects of expression.