Tranquil Power: The Art of Perle Fine

Perle Fine
American, 1905–1988
In Staccato, 1939–41
Oil on canvas
IU Art Museum 79.73
© Perle Fine

This spring, the IU Art Museum is proud to host Tranquil Power: The Art of Perle Fine, a traveling retrospective on the lesser-known 20th century female abstract artist. This exhibition opened to the public in March, coinciding with National Women’s History Month—an opportune time to rediscover the vibrant and sophisticated work of Perle Fine, especially given that the theme for Women’s History Month 2012 was “Women’s Education—Women’s Empowerment.”

Perle Fine (1905–1988), one of only a few women in the inner circle of Abstract Expressionist artists, was mentored by abstract painter Hans Hofmann (1880–1966), who taught at New York’s Art Students League after leaving his native Germany in 1932. Hofmann strongly influenced American artists to experiment with abstraction, including the group that founded the American Abstract Artists in 1936. Through her involvement with this organization, Fine also met the great Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, whose austere geometric grids are echoed in many of her works. Fine later served as a teacher and mentor herself, employed as a faculty member in the fine arts department of Hofstra University from 1962 to 1973.

This retrospective gives a unique look at an artist’s career: the pieces trace 40 years of Fine’s work (1930–1970), as well as the evolution of her style through paintings, drawings, collages, wood assemblages, and prints. Photographs of Fine and her artist friends, taken by Fine’s husband, photographer Maurice Berezov, complement this exhibition.

To further supplement this retrospective, an abstract painting by Charmion von Wiegand, one of Fine’s female contemporaries, will be on display in the first floor Art of the Western World gallery until June 3rd, 2012. Also, there will be an educators’ workshop titled “What is Ab Ex?” on April 20th from 1:00–3:00 p.m. in the museum’s third floor conference room, in which curators, conservators, and educators will explore Abstract Expressionism.

Tranquil Power: The Art of Perle Fine will be on display in the first floor Special Exhibitions gallery and the Judi and Milt Stewart Hexagon Gallery through May 27, 2012. The exhibition catalogue and the artist monograph are available at Angles Café & Gift Shop.

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