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Art Museum to host abstract art exhibit, programs

August  09, 2012

The Augustana Art Museum will highlight the work of one of the most well-known women artists associated with American Abstract Expressionism in the exhibition, Tranquil Power: The Art of Perle Fine Aug. 21-Oct. 23.

Perle Fine (1905-1988)  was born in Boston and began studies at the Art Students League in New York City, where many noted artists have either studied or taught. In the late 1930s she studied with the German-born American abstract painter Hans Hoffman. In the early 1940s, Fine was one of the few women promoted by the Guggenheim Museum. In 1950 she was sponsored by Willem de Kooning and admitted as one of the first women members of the 8th Street Club. In the 1950s Fine's studio became a permanent residence for many artists of the New York School.

The exhibition includes 35 of Fine's works and a sample of photos by her husband, Maurice Berezov, who had a Madison Avenue advertising career. In both New York City and on Long Island, Berezov carried a small handheld camera and captured images that document growth in American avant-garde art.

An active participant in the first wave of American abstract art of the 1930s, Fine took part in the trajectory of Abstract Expressionism — from Cubist-inspired geometry and symbol systems to full-fledged gestural action painting. While Fine taught at Hofstra University from the early 1960s until 1974, she simplified her painting into a sort of floating geometry that continued her earlier exploration of forms in space.

"These are powerful, physically luscious paintings that equal those of Fine's contemporary male action painters, but her later works develop elegant sophisticated color," noted Sherry Maurer, Augustana Art Museum director.

The traveling exhibition, organized by Hofstra University Museum and Perle Fine Retrospective, Inc., with independent curator Susan Knowles, includes a 1938 charcoal drawing by Fine, Gift of Dr. Thomas B. Brumbaugh as part of a significant collection of 100 works of art gifted and lent as The Thomas B. Brumbaugh Art History Collection, Augustana College. The Augustana venue of the Perle Fine exhibition is dedicated in honor of Thomas Brendle Brumbaugh, professor emeritus of fine arts, Vanderbilt University.

The local presentation is made possible through funding of the Reynold Emanuel and Johnnie Gause Leak Holmén Endowment Fund for the Visual Arts. Additional funding for this exhibition has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts; New  York State Council on the  Arts; Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust; Judith Rothschild Foundation; Spanierman Modern and the Kanter Family Foundation. Presenting sponsors are Mr. and Mrs. Earl S. Swensson, A.E. Artworks; and Edgetex Industries.

Several related programs will include:

ArtBeat with WAUG,  8-9 p.m., Thursday, Aug.  30
A social hour in the art museum will feature a live music broadcast in partnership with students of WAUG Radio.

Guest speaker Dr. Gail Levin,7:30 p.m.Friday, Sept. 14
Dr. Levin, Distinguished Professor of Art History, American Studies, and Women's Studies at the Graduate Center and Baruch College of the City University of New York, will address the exhibition during a public lecture in Larson Hall, inside Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts (3701 7th Ave.).

Informal exhibition tours
10-11 a.m. and 1-2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15
1-2 pm. Sunday, Oct. 14
Sherry Maurer, director of the art museum, will lead exhibition tours. Limit of 50 people per tour; register at (309) 794-7231.   

The Augustana Art Museum is located at the entrance to Centennial Hall on the northwest corner of the intersection of 7th Ave. and 38th St., Rock Island. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. (Closed Labor Day weekend).  There is no admission charge. Public parking is available in the lot on the east side of Centennial Hall/Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts. More information is available during weekday hours at (309) 794-7231 or at

For more information about the museum, contact Maurer at (309) 794-7469 or

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833