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Guggenheim Presents Knotted, Torn, Scattered: Sculpture after Abstract Expressionism


Exhibition considers artistic explorations of scale, material, and processExhibition: Knotted, Torn, Scattered: Sculpture after Abstract Expressionism
Venue: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York
Location: Robert Mapplethorpe Gallery/Tower 4
Dates: October 3, 2020–September 19, 2021

As part of the October 3 public reopening, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents Knotted, Torn, Scattered: Sculpture after Abstract Expressionism, an exhibition that considers the diverse ways that artists in the 1960s and ’70s responded to the achievements of Abstract Expressionist painters to formulate unique approaches to sculptural practice. Knotted, Torn, Scattered features works from the Guggenheim collection by Lynda Benglis, Maren Hassinger, Robert Morris, Senga Nengudi, Richard Serra, and Tony Smith. These artists saw in postwar painting urgent questions about scale, material, and process. This exhibition is presented in conjunction with Away from the Easel: Jackson Pollock’s Mural, offering a rare opportunity to view Pollock’s breakthrough painting Mural (1943) in proximity to works that expand and challenge the meaning of the artist’s legacy.

Knotted, Torn, Scattered: Sculpture after Abstract Expressionism is organized by Lauren Hinkson, Associate Curator, Collections. Generous funding for this exhibition is provided by the Edlis-Neeson Foundation, Sotheby’s, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.

In the years following World War II, Pollock and other Abstract Expressionist artists redefined American painting. After Pollock’s death in 1956, a new generation saw in his work the impetus to create not expressive canvases, but sculptures that explored fundamental experiences of space, materials, and bodily mechanics. As artist and writer Allan Kaprow argued, “[M]ural-scale paintings ceased to [be] paintings and became environments.”

The work in Knotted, Torn, Scattered exemplifies a shift in emphasis in American art—from gestural painting toward explorations of the physical properties of materials. A pivotal piece featured in the exhibition is Richard Serra’s Belts (1966–67), an installation of industrial rubber coils and neon. The artist has described the work as “structurally related to Pollock’s Mural. If my origins culminated in anything, they culminated in Pollock. Then I felt I needed to move into literal space.” Lynda Benglis attempted to “get off the wall with the canvas” by transforming her painted surfaces into knotted sculptural objects. Tony Smith’s Wingbone (1962) demonstrates the translation of spiritual ambitions through organic geometries in his human-scaled forms. Influenced by dance and collaborative performance, works by Maren Hassinger and Senga Nengudi demonstrate how process-oriented practices could also register a social experience beyond the singular actions of the artist. A recent acquisition, Hassinger’s Untitled (1972/2020), comprised of eight lengths of nautical rope repeatedly hand-spliced and hung in an evocative installation, is on public view for the first time. Like Robert Morris’s Untitled (Pink Felt) (1970), Hassinger’s installation is an index of the artist’s interactions with industrial materials.

About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation was established in 1937 and is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of modern and contemporary art through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The international constellation of museums includes the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; and the future Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. An architectural icon and “temple of spirit” where radical art and architecture meet, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is among a group of eight Frank Lloyd Wright structures in the United States recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. To learn more about the museum and the Guggenheim’s activities around the world, visit

Visitor Information

Admission: Adults $25, students/seniors (65+) $18, members and children under 12 free. Open Thursdays through Mondays from 11 am to 6 pm. Pay What You Wish hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 6 pm. Timed tickets are required and available at Explore the Guggenheim with our free Digital Guide, a part of the Bloomberg Connects app. Find it in the Apple App Store or in the Google Play Store.

The Guggenheim is implementing health and safety measures in consideration of visitors and employees and in compliance with New York State and City guidelines. Face masks will be mandatory inside the museum for anyone over the age of two. New requirements should be reviewed in advance of a visit; they are posted on COVID-19 Safety Measures: What to Expect When Visiting.

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