Skip to Content
Sharon Friedman, Tiger Lily, c.1979

Sharon Friedman, Tiger Lily, c.1979, acrylic on canvas, 60 ¼ x 64 ¾ inches, The Dr. Beatrice H. Barrett Collection

Click images for larger view
On View Apr 07, 2017 - Sep 17, 2017
Exhibition Location: Museum

This exhibition presents a vital yet lesser-known history of abstract painting in New England by showcasing the work of women painters with strong connections to the region. Despite their relative exclusion from mainstream and male-dominated conversations on postwar abstraction, these artists have made significant contributions to the field. Spanning from the 1950s to the present, the works on view in the exhibition expand traditions of abstract painting and testify to the artists’ unwavering productivity and creative innovation.

Drawn primarily from deCordova’s permanent collection, this survey explores diverse techniques, processes, and concepts. The show features works by Natalie Alper, Kristin Baker, Sharon Friedman, Maud Morgan, Ann Pibal, Jo Sandman, Sandi Slone, Barbara Takenaga, and Maxine Yalovitz-Blankenship, among numerous other modern and contemporary artists. The exhibition and interpretation also emphasizes the artists’ contributions, connections, and reception within New England. Expanding Abstraction reveals the complexities of painting in the region and lays the foundation for a more inclusive understanding of abstraction through the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Organized by Jennifer Gross, former Chief Curator and Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs, with Sarah Montross, Associate Curator. 

Support for this exhibition was generously provided by Amy and Jonathan Poorvu, Linda and George Kelly, Mary and Donald Shockey, Deborah A. Hawkins Charitable Trust, and The Meredyth Hyatt Moses Fund.

Member Preview: Expanding Abstraction

Thursday, April 6, 12–2 pm
Before the exhibition opens to the public, Members are invited for exclusive preview hours of Expanding Abstraction. Get the first look at the galleries and join in a special discussion with curator Sarah Montross and exhibiting artist Maxine Yalovitz-Blankenship.


Curator-led Tour of Expanding Abstraction, 1950s-1970s

Thursday, April 13, 12 pm
Martina Tanga, Koch Curatorial Fellow, and Scout Hutchinson, Curatorial Assistant, offer an in-depth exploration of the paintings created during the first three decades of Expanding Abstraction.


Made by a Woman: Gender and its Relevance to the Arts

Thursday, May 4, 6:30 pm
Dr. Deborah J. Johnson, Professor of Art History and Women’s Studies at Providence College, will explore the benefits and complexities of presenting exhibitions of all women artists.

The Muralist: Tour and Book Discussion with author B. A. Shapiro

Wednesday, June 14, 6:30 pm
Join us for a Curator-led tour of Expanding Abstractions followed by a discussion of The Muralist and women abstract painters with author B. A. Shapiro. 

Curator-led Tour of Expanding Abstraction, 1980s-now

Thursday, July 13, 12 pm
Sarah Montross, Associate Curator, and Scout Hutchinson, Curatorial Assistant, lead a focused gallery talk on paintings in Expanding Abstraction created from the 1980s to today.