Gazelli Art House's 9th St. Club

An exhibition seeking to undo the stereotype of abstract expressionists as 'macho' men

Resisting the underestimation of women in the movement commonly termed ‘Abstract Expressionism’, the 9th St Club exhibition at Gazelli Art House (January 17, 2020 - February 23, 2020) reinterprets the original 1951 exhibition Ninth Street Show by choosing to exhibit the works of female artists alone. The shocking proportion of men to women artists in the 1951 exhibition - 70 male artists in comparison to a mere 11 female artists - contributed to the formation of the movement’s ‘ultra-macho’ image. Seeking to dismantle the mainstream interpretation of the abstract expressionist movement as hyper-masculine, this exhibition features works from Grace Hartigan, Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Mercedes Matter and Perle Fine, highlighting their importance in the New York art scene. This is the first time these works have been shown together in the UK, following on from the Lee Krasner retrospective at the Barbican and the opening of a new room devoted to the work of Helen Frankenthaler at the Tate Modern, both in 2019.

Grace Hartigan, Study for Montauk Highway, 1957, collage on paper, 56 x 71cm (Image by Saga Sjöberg)

The exhibition, partly inspired by Mary Gabriel’s 2018 novel Ninth Street Women, departs from the reductive association of abstract expressionist art with anger and toxic masculinity. Instead, the works displayed reveal the new and unique use of paint introdu