This exhibition, organized by René Paul Barilleaux, the McNay's Chief Curator/Curator of Art after 1945, assembles the work of thirteen emerging and mid-career abstract painters whose art is characterized in whole or part by high-key color, obsessive layering of surface imagery, use of overall and repeated patterns, stylized motifs, fragments of representation, and a tension between melancholy and the sublime. To date, little focus has been placed on works which celebrate the exoticism, exuberance, and optimism found in the work of the painters assembled in Beauty Reigns.
Beauty Reigns is accompanied by an illustrated book that includes two essays by Lilly Wei and Stephen Westfall contextualizing this approach to abstract painting and tracing its roots in twentieth-century art. Additional biographical and interpretative texts on each of the artists are authored by Barilleaux. The book Beauty Reigns reflects the dynamic nature of the exhibition in its aesthetic, approach, and design; expands the imagery seen in the museum; and offers a larger window into the work of these artists and their particular approaches to painting.