This exhibition focuses on the abstract paintings made by Janet Sobel (1893–1968) during the 1940s. Short-lived but meteoric, her career began in 1943, when leading New York 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. American critic Clement Greenberg later called her paintings “the first really all-over effect that I had seen.” Sobel preceded Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock’s better-known use of this technique, and thus her work challenges existing narratives around mid-century modernism. Organized with the support of the Sobel family, this exhibition marks the first time her major paintings have been reunited in over sixty years.
A selection of works on paper further expands the exhibition by demonstrating her approach to drawing, with a series of parallel linear strokes that knit foreground and background together into dense, interlocking patterns.