Abstract Art by Black Artists to Be Focus of Saint Louis Art Museum Show

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Mary Lovelace O’Neal, American, born 1942; City Lights, 1988; offset lithograph and screenprint; sheet (irregular): 28 1/8 × 32 1/8 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, The Thelma and Bert Ollie Memorial Collection, Gift of Ronald and Monique Ollie 177:2017; © Mary Lovelace O’Neal
  • Mary Lovelace O’Neal, American, born 1942; City Lights, 1988; offset lithograph and screenprint; sheet (irregular): 28 1/8 × 32 1/8 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, The Thelma and Bert Ollie Memorial Collection, Gift of Ronald and Monique Ollie 177:2017; © Mary Lovelace O’Neal


Mark your calendars, St. Louis. The Thelma and Bert Ollie Memorial Collection of abstract art by black artists officially goes on display Tuesday, September 17, at the Saint Louis Art Museum (1 Fine Arts Dr.; 314-721-0072).

The collection was gifted to the museum in 2017 by New Jersey-based art collector Ronald Maurice Ollie and his wife, Monique McRipley Ollie, in honor of Ronald's parents. The elder Ollies often visited the Saint Louis Art Museum with their children, instilling a lifelong passion for art. Ronald and Monique Ollie together collected art for many years, particularly work by contemporary black artists.

Among the treasures that will be shown in the exhibit, The Shape Of Abstraction: Selections from the Ollie Collection are important works such as Robert Blackburn's lithograph Faux Pas, Mary Lovelace O'Neal's City Lights and Frank Bowling's Fishes, Wishes and Star Apple Blue, which demonstrates Bowling's innovative painting technique. In all, 40 works will be featured in the exhibit, which draws its title from a poem by poet Quincy Troupe. The St. Louis native was inspired by the artworks in the Ollie Collection, and wrote "The Shape of Abstraction; for Ron Ollie," in response. Troupe's poem will be published in the exhibit catalog.



The Shape of Abstraction follows on the success of the electrifying Kehinde Wiley exhibit this past fall. That show generated an enormous response from St. Louis, with crowds thronging the gallery through the final day of the show.

Frank Bowling, British (born Guyana), born 1936; Fishes, Wishes and Star Apple Blue, 1992; acrylic on canvas; 39 1/2 × 40 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, The Thelma and Bert Ollie Memorial Collection, Gift of Ronald and Monique Ollie 187:2017; © Frank Bowling
  • Frank Bowling, British (born Guyana), born 1936; Fishes, Wishes and Star Apple Blue, 1992; acrylic on canvas; 39 1/2 × 40 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, The Thelma and Bert Ollie Memorial Collection, Gift of Ronald and Monique Ollie 187:2017; © Frank Bowling
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