"Declaring Space" includes works by four artists whose images had a dramatic effect on the complex development of space and color in abstract painting as it evolved in the years following World War II. The works of these artists do not represent a movement as much as a dramatic evolution of what has come to be thought of as "the field," an often misunderstood term in the vocabulary of postwar abstract art. While this term is often associated with American painting, specifically Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting, Declaring Space addresses this concept from an international viewpoint, blurring national labels for a set of spatial themes that were evoked in abstract art in the latter half of the twentieth century, where the boundaries of traditional pictorial space were crossed and a new realm of abstract theater was engaged.
These four artists opened up the spatial and metaphysical possibilities of abstract painting in gradual but equally unprecedented ways. As the curator of the exhibition, Michael Auping, describes it, "Rothko sets the stage, draws back the curtains, if you will, on the opening up of this space. Newman emphatically declares what might be called a totemic space, while Fontana literally slices through the picture's plane with a razor, and Klein, as he pronounced it, leaps into the void."