Janet Sobel: All-Over

February–August 2024
Main Building

This focused exhibition is devoted to the abstract paintings of Janet Sobel (1893–1968) from the 1940s. In this decade, the now-under-recognized artist flourished in the New York art world. Short-lived but meteoric, her career began in 1943, when leading dealers, collectors, and other artists took up her work, culminating in a solo show at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery in 1946. Acclaimed for her skillful use of color and densely layered compositions that spilled to the edges of the support, Sobel pioneered what became known as “all-over” abstraction, filling her canvases from corner to corner. Renowned American critic Clement Greenberg later called her paintings “the first really all-over effect that I had seen.” Dripping and pouring skeins of paint onto horizontal boards or canvases, Sobel preceded Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock’s better-known use of this technique, and her work challenges existing narratives around mid-century modernism.

This exhibition is organized with the support of the Sobel family.

This exhibition is generously supported by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.