Realism and Abstraction: Six Degrees of Separation

June 19, 2004—June 18, 2006

What is more real—paint arranged on the flat surface of a canvas, depicting a convincing illusion of the “real” world, or an abstract work of art conveying an intense psychological experience?

This exhibition from the Nelson-Atkins’ impressive permanent collection of modern and contemporary art explored realism and abstraction in 20th-century art.

Realistic paintings and sculptures imitate nature, and though this depicted world may appear astonishingly real, it is not. Vacillating between realism and abstraction, many imaginative works of art exaggerate color and form, while retaining degrees of recognizable imagery.

Within 20th-century art, limitless possibility fills the separation between realism and abstraction, yet the two are never far apart.
This exhibition was supported by the Campbell-Calvin Fund for special exhibitions and H&R Block, Inc. Midwest Airlines was the official airline sponsor.

Fairfield Porter, American, (1907-1975). The Mirror, 1966. Oil on canvas, 72 3/4 x 60 3/4 inches. Gift of the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation, F86-25.

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