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In Shape, Out of Shape

Abstract art exhibition opens tonight at BU Art Gallery

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In the slide show above, Rachael Arauz talks about the BUAG exhibition.

Defining abstract art, which bridges culture from prehistoric to contemporary, can be complicated. But in the BU Art Gallery’s latest installation, it’s distilled into its simplest form — shapes.

Rachael Arauz, guest curator of The Shape of Abstraction, has created a survey of artists from the 1930s onward, including Josef Albers, Louise Bourgeois, Thomas Nozkowski, Franz Kupka, Ralph Coburn, and Burgoyne Diller. Their works pop with colorful squares, circles, triangles, and free-form shapes. The show opens tonight at the gallery, with a reception at 6 p.m.

The gallery’s open layout showcases both classic and unexpected groupings of paintings, drawings, collage, and sculpture.

“Abstract art became a fun topic to consider, because there isn’t much modern art on view in Boston right now,” says Arauz. “With the Museum of Fine Arts undergoing renovation, Harvard’s Fogg closed, and the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis temporarily closed last year, it seemed like a good time to do a show of beautiful, high modernism.

“It sounds like a crazy mishmash of a show, but I think it holds together pretty well.”

Aruaz also wanted a mix of male and female artists. “It’s not hard to include women, but sometimes they just aren’t included,” she says. Suzan Frecon, whose art is in the show, wanted to attend the opening, but will be in New York installing work in the Whitney Biennial Friday morning. Several of the exhibition’s artists will be at tonight’s reception, including Nozkowski and Coburn, a North Shore resident.

The show is one of the finest exhibitions of abstract art shown at the BU Art Gallery at the Stone Gallery, according to gallery director Marc Mitchell.

“This thematic exhibition was a chance to showcase the essential yet powerful effect of shapes in modern art at a time when many young artists have indicated a renewed interest in abstraction,” he says.

The Shape of Abstraction is on display at the BU Art Gallery at the Stone Gallery through March 28, 2010, and is free and open to the public. The opening reception is from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight, Thursday, February 4. The BUAG, 855 Commonwealth Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Kimberly Cornuelle can be reached at kcornuel@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @kcornuel.

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