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14 November 2018, 9am-5pm

Conference bringing together researchers to explore the role of sculpture within the New York School. It aims to re-assess the contribution of this medium to scholarship on Abstract Expressionism.

Tickets: £10, including lunch

Click here to book now. 

Reassessing Sculpture In and Beyond Abstract Expressionism

On the occasion of the first exhibition of the American artist Richard Pousette-Dart’s work in the UK, this one-day conference will explore the relationship between Abstract Expressionism and sculpture. Like many artists working in the idiom of Abstract Expressionism, Pousette-Dart also experimented with sculpture and object-making. Aside from the important work of David Smith and Louise Nevelson, these creative experiments are little discussed. This conference seeks to reassess this work and ask how it furthers, or indeed challenges our understanding of Abstract Expressionism.

The conference is convened by Kettle’s Yard staff: Dr Jennifer Powell, Head of Collection, Programme and Research, Dr Amy Tobin, Curator of Exhibitions, Events and Research and Christie Costello, Research and Curatorial Assistant.


9.00am – 9.30am
Registration: Tea and coffee will be available in the café

9.30am – 10am
Welcome and Richard Pousette-Dart ‘I dreamed sculpture’: Dr Jennifer Powell
Head of Collection and Programme, Kettle’s Yard; Lecturer, University of Cambridge

Chair: Dr David Anfam
Senior Consulting Curator, Clyfford Still Museum and Director, Research Center; Managing Director, Art Ex Ltd

Backing into Modernist Sculpture
Dr Stephen Moonie, Lecturer in Art History, Newcastle University

Adolph Gottlieb: Sculptor
Sanford Hirsch, Executive Director of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation

11 – 11.10am

Tony Smith: ‘The Perfect Person for Jackson’
Dr Eileen Costello, independent scholar, author and lecturer

Navigating the Revolving Door: Beverly Pepper’s Contrappunto
Aaron Ziolkowski, PhD Candidate in Art History at Pennsylvania State University

Questions and group discussion

12.10 – 12.20pm

12.20 – 1pm 
Questions and group discussion

Lunch: Served in the Ede Room (2nd floor)

Chair: Dr Amy Tobin
Curator of Exhibitions, Research and Events, Kettle’s Yard; Lecturer, University of Cambridge

Anne Truitt: Linking Surface to the Aesthetic Experience of Space
Vivien Trommer, University Cologne PhD candidate

Anomalous Intermediaries: Agnes Martin’s Reliefs
Dr Moran Sheleg, Postdoctoral Fellow at The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art


Jay DeFeo and the Sculptural Fragment
Dr Catherine Spencer, Lecturer in Art History, University of St Andrews

Questions and group discussion


Final roundtable with all speakers

Drinks and exhibition viewing of Richard Pousette-Dart: Beginnings, A Young Abstract Expressionist in New York


Dr Jennifer Powell

Jennifer Powell has been Head of Collections and Programme at Kettle’s Yard since 2013 and is a Lecturer in the History of Art Department, University of Cambridge. Her work on modern and contemporary sculpture has been published in the Sculpture Journal (2012), Modern British Sculpture (RA, 2011), Actions. The image of the world can be different (KY, 2018). She is editor of NEW RHYTHMS: Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (KY, 2015) and co-editor of SUBJECT: Antony Gormley (KY, 2018). Powell is curator of the exhibition Richard Pousette-Dart: Beginnings and editor of the accompanying catalogue.

 Dr David Anfam

David Anfam is a writer, curator and leading authority on modern American art. He is the Senior Consulting Curator at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver and the Director of its Research Center. His publications include Abstract Expressionism (1990), the catalogue raisonné Mark Rothko: Works on Canvas (1998), which won the Mitchell prize in 2000, as well as studies on Anish Kapoor, Edward Kienholz and Wayne Thiebaud.

 Dr Stephen Moonie

Stephen Moonie is Lecturer in Art History in the Department of Fine Art, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University. His research interests concern theories of modernism in the postwar U.S.: particularly debates around painting. He wrote for the catalogue The Indiscipline of Painting (Tate, 2011), and he has published essays on the criticism of Lawrence Alloway, Harold Rosenberg and Leo Steinberg. He has also written on Ray Johnson, Luc Tuymans and on October’s critique of painting.

Sanford Hirsch

Sanford Hirsch is the Executive Director of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation and supervises all of the Foundation’s programs. Hirsch has originated several major exhibitions, including a comprehensive retrospective of Gottlieb’s work and a survey of Gottlieb’s Pictographs, published numerous articles about Gottlieb and American art, and has lectured on related topics in the U.S. and abroad. Recent exhibitions include an exhibition of Gottlieb’s monotypes, all created in the last year of the artist’s life, that was exhibited in several US museums in 2016 – 2018. Currently, the exhibition Adolph Gottlieb in Provincetown is on view at the Provincetown Artists Association and Museum in Massachusetts. Hirsch is overseeing the compilation of a catalogue raisonné on the art of Adolph Gottlieb.

Dr Eileen Costello

Eileen Costello earned her PhD in Art History at the University of Texas at Austin in 2010 after previously working in New York galleries specialising in modern and contemporary art. Her thesis paper demonstrated how Clement Greenberg anticipated strategies associated with 1960s Minimalism. Her dissertation investigated collaborations between abstract expressionist artists and modernist architects, and discussed the transition from abstract expressionism to minimalism in the context of the viewer’s experience of space. In the 2000s she taught art history courses at Hunter College, City University of New York and began to organise exhibitions and undertake catalogue raisonnéresearch with Matthew Marks Gallery. She has published monographs on Brice Marden and Jasper Johns, and is currently working on similar surveys of Tony Smith and Arshile Gorky’s oeuvres.

Aaron Ziolkowski

Aaron Ziolkowski is a PhD candidate in Modern and Contemporary Art History at the Pennsylvania State University. He received his BA in History with highest honors from UCLA where he minored in Art History, and his Masters Degree from Penn State in 2013. He has worked in the Education Department at the Long Beach Museum of Art and as a curatorial intern at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His dissertation addresses corporate-sponsored abstraction, mainly sculpture, located in the semi-public spaces of lobbies and plazas at mid-century in Manhattan and Chicago.

Dr Amy Tobin

Amy Tobin completed her PhD at the University of York in 2017 with a thesis titled ‘Working Together, Working Apart: Feminism, Art and Collaboration in Britain and North American, 1970– 1981’. She was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. in 2014 and a Terra Foundation for American Art pre-doctoral researcher in 2014–5. After her PhD she won post- doctoral research grants from the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art and the Henry Moore Foundation. She is a co-editor of London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent and Ephemeral Networks 1960–1980 (Penn State University Press, 2018 with Jo Applin and Catherine Spencer. She is currently working on a monograph titled Picturing the Movement, Imagining the Movement: Art and Feminism in the 1970s.

Vivien Trommer   

Vivien Trommer is an independent writer and curator based in Frankfurt currently working towards her PhD in Art History. Prior to her career as researcher, she gained working experience as a curator and, in 2016, realized the exhibition House of Commons at Portikus, Frankfurt/Main. In 2015, she was a curator at Ludlow 38, the Goethe-Institut’s non-profit gallery space in New York. Between 2012 and 2014, she worked as curatorial assistant at Kunsthalle Wien and among others curated the exhibition Experience Economy at Salzburger Kunstverein. Frequently, Vivien contributes to exhibition catalogues and art magazines such as Artforum and KubaParis.

Dr Moran Sheleg

Moran Sheleg is a Postdoctoral Fellow at The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. Her PhD thesis, completed at UCL, re-examined painting since modernism beyond the narrative of crisis that has often defined its discussion. Focusing on a range of artists working in America and Great Britain during the 1950s and 1960s, Moran has also written widely on contemporary painting for publications such as The Journal of Contemporary Painting, the Burlington Magazine, Tate Research, and others.

Dr Catherine Spencer

Catherine Spencer is a Lecturer in the School of Art History at the University of St Andrews specialising in the modern and contemporary period. Her essays have been published in Art History, British Art Studies, Tate Papers, Parallax and the Oxford Art Journal. With Jo Applin and Amy Tobin, she is the co- editor of London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent, and Ephemeral Networks, 1960–1980, published by Penn State University Press this year.