The impact of World War II on American visual culture, in a word that could have been invented for the purpose, is incalculable.
The shock waves of that global cataclysm, whether on Abstract Expressionist canvases or avant-garde films, continue to reverberate through the art world. They are so vast, variegated and far-flung as to seem almost impossible to grasp.
But by zooming in on one particular aspect of the war and its aftermath, an exhibition opening April 2 in the University at Buffalo’s Anderson Gallery (1 Martha Jackson Place) hopes to hint at the global transformation in culture brought about by that war and those who fought it.
“On the Front Lines: Military Veterans at the Art Students League of New York,” a show curated by Jillian Russo of the Art Students League and augmented for its local presentation by Robert Scalise with works from the university’s collection, explores the impact of returning soldiers on New York City’s post-war art scene.
More specifically, it focuses on the Art Students League, which received a massive influx of veterans after the war ended.
“Since the passage of the G.I. Bill in 1944, more than 4,000 veterans have studied at The Art Students League of New York,” according to a gallery release. “Many of those veterans shaped the course of American art. The artists in this exhibition came to The Arts Students league early in their careers and it was a place where they began to develop their personal styles in response to Abstract Expressionism – the major movement at the time in the New York art world.”
Artists featured in the show include Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Judd, Paul Jenkins, Al Held and Michael Goldberg. Also opening Saturday is a select group of paintings by Paul Jenkins called “Chapel of Meditation.” The shows run through Aug. 7. Call 829-3574 or visit ubartgalleries.org