The works of Frank Hursh and Robert Motherwell are featured in two separate exhibits at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center’s downtown Asheville gallery spaces through September 2, offering viewers an opportunity to see the similarities and differences in their approach to abstract painting and how each was influenced by their time at Black Mountain College (BMC).
Frank Hursh: Marking Space + Place, located at 69 Broadway, displays both paintings and drawings by Hursh, who attended BMC from 1949–1950, and has been a working artist in Mexico since 1956. His paintings combine several elements that BMC artists are known for, including a stunning sense of color and a use of mark-making that is both skillful and profound.
“We are so fortunate to have been able to work directly with Frank and his family to put together this show, which includes works from his early days at BMC as well as very recent pieces,” says exhibition curator Dr. Brian E. Butler. “The theme most clearly shown is a sense of abstraction and mastery of color that allows for spatial qualities and surface mark-making to work in concert.”
Robert Motherwell: The Quiet + The Wild, located at 56 Broadway, will feature a selection of the former BMC instructor and acclaimed Abstract Expressionist’s work from 1965 to 1990. Motherwell, who taught at the college in 1945 and again in 1951, provided a strong link to the emerging abstract movement in New York City. Influenced by a background in philosophy, he valued psychic automatism, which required openness to the unconscious and a commitment to working in the present. His process as a painter, printmaker and collagist was based largely on feeling rather than thinking and analysis.
“Motherwell was an emotional artist with work that oscillated and occupied space between intellectualism and visceral energy and chance,” says exhibition co-curator Alice Sebrell. “The show offers a marriage of opposites and demonstrates that Motherwell didn’t try to over-control his art.”
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is located at 56 Broadway and 69 Broadway in Asheville. Hours are Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with hours extended until 8 p.m. on the first Friday of every month from April through December as part of the Downtown Asheville Art Walk. Admission is by donation. Learn more at blackmountaincollege.org.