Sam Feinstein, Group ‘55, and Midcentury Abstraction in Philadelphia


About the Exhibition

In 1955, a group of Philadelphia painters, architects, musicians, and dancers organized a series of exhibitions and public forums across the city, presenting their work as a catalyst for vigorous public dialogue about the role of art and science in the postwar era. Group ’55, as they came to be known, was led by the artist Sam Feinstein. Their public forums included architect Louis Kahn, composer George Rochberg, and painters Charles Bechtle, Quita Brodhead, Michael Ciliberti, Sam Freid, Sanford Greenberg, Raymond Hendler, Frances Lachman, Sam Maitin, Patricia Mangione, Jane Piper, Doris Staffel, and many others.

This is a multi-venue initiative that involves three exhibitions: Sam Feinstein: Immersive Abstraction (on view through April 11, 2021) and Group ’55 and Midcentury Abstraction in Philadelphia (through May 9, 2021) at Woodmere, and Sam Feinstein: The Early Years at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (on view through January 24, 2021). 

The three exhibitions are brought together in a printed catalogue, Sam Feinstein, Group ‘55, and Midcentury Abstraction in Philadelphia. The catalogue will include transcripts of their public forums and historic materials never before made public. Patricia Stark Feinstein, who has overseen Feinstein’s archive of Group ’55 material, is organizing the exhibition in collaboration with the Museum. Barbara Wolanin, a distinguished art historian whose specialization is American modernism, is guest curator, and she will contribute an essay that represents the first detailed account of the accomplishments of Group ’55 and its subsequent offshoot, the Philadelphia Abstract Artists.

Sam Feinstein and Group '55 are discussed in an episode of Woodmere's podcast, Diving Board. To subscribe and listen, click here.

Sam Feinstein: Immersive Abstraction features Feinstein’s large-scale paintings from 1960 through the 2000s.

Sam Feinstein: The Early Years is presented at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in their Barbara Crawford Gallery, named for Crawford, a member of Group ’55 and Feinstein’s first wife. Sam Feinstein taught at Chestnut Hill Academy from 1938 to 1942. The exhibition will feature watercolors, paintings, and illustrations from 1930 to the mid-1950s depicting his journey from political realism and illustration to gestural abstraction. Also included in the exhibition will be Feinstein’s film on his friend and artist Hans Hofmann. This short documentary, Hans Hofmann, offers a rare and intimate view of the artist’s philosophy and practice.

Exhibition-related Events 
Click links to register
September 24, 2020 | 7 pm | Online Opening Reception (via Zoom) | View Recording

October 24 | 10am | Art Workshop: Boats and the Harbor: A Still Life (at SCH Academy)
October 29 | 7pm | Lecture: Louis Kahn, the Visual Arts, and the Idea of Modernism with Izzy Kornblatt 
November 11 | 7pm | Online Members' Tour (in conjunction with Annual Meeting of Members)

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