On View Image
An abstracted composition of swans. The field features thick swathes of white, gray, and teal paint with small accents of black, gray, light blue, green, and orange pencil marks.
The Experience of Expression
March 2, 2024 - July 21, 2024

The expressive nature of fine art is a well-known concept, largely popularized by the early twentieth-century European Expressionist movement and New York-based Abstract Expressionism that emerged a few decades later. Artists often create their work with expressive intent, but art objects can also gain a sense of agency aside from the artist, particularly when presented to a viewer. 

Art may evoke empathy as we experience the artist’s emotions along with our own, but The Experience of Expression proposes that resonance belongs to the moment of a viewer’s encounter, rather than the work itself. In this show, the artwork is personified in a way, expressive on its own, as it is displayed and offered for interpretation

Drawing inspiration from critiques of expression theory, The Experience of Expression invites viewers to contemplate the expressive nature of each artwork and think about what the artist may have felt, what the art might be showing you, and the relationship you might hold with it.

The Experience of Expression was curated by Grace Tank, the 2021-22 Lisa and Jerry O’Brien Curatorial Fellow.

Image credit: Mary Abbott, Cygne Sauvage de Nîmes (Wild Swan of Nîmes), 1955-1965, oil and oil crayon on canvas, 77 1/2 x 78 5/16 x 1 1/4 in. Collection of the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Gift of the artist. 1992.17.