The Interpretive Link: Abstract Surrealism into Abstract Expressionism: Works on Paper, 1938–1948

Originating venue
The opening of The Interpretive Link at the Newport Harbor Art Museum showcased 137 works on paper created between 1938 and 1948 by twenty-two artists, including Americans, Europeans working in New York, and Joan Miró (1893–1983), who remained in Europe but whose influence was widespread. All works represented a mode of production that the curator Paul Schimmel dubbed “abstract surrealism.” A response to European surrealism and abstraction made familiar in New York via European emigres and local exhibitions, the art in this exhibition anticipated full-blown abstract expressionism of the 1950s. The Newport and the Walker exhibited 13 watercolors by Mark Rothko, which were made during the early to mid-1940s. The Whitney held its show at the Equitable Center in Midtown Manhattan. Owing to the small size of the satellite venue (which has since closed), the Whitney exhibited just 43 of the 137 drawings on view in Newport but kept 11 of the original Rothko works on view, displaying Rothko watercolors adjacent to pastels by Barnett Newman (1905–1970).

  • The Interpretive Link (installation view), 1986; Newport Harbor Art Museum (now Orange County Museum of Art), Newport Beach, CA; Courtesy of Orange County Museum of Art.