“The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China”
German Minimalist Charlotte Posenenske (1930–1985) made art for a mere twelve years—she would later become a sociologist—but in that time she produced an influential body of work. Her space-filling, infinitely adjustable modular sculptures, composed of sheet metal or cardboard, were designed to be easily and cheaply reproduced. They reflected her position that art should not be a luxury, but an affordable, functional product that customers could make their own. Posenenske’s first US retrospective comprises original prototypes, drawings, wall reliefs, and over one hundred newly fabricated elements from the artist’s various sculpture series.
Is there a distinctive black aesthetic? How should art relate to a systematically oppressed community? Are figuration and abstraction equally valid? Should African American artists aim to succeed in the established (and overwhelmingly white) art world, or should they create their own uncompromised alternatives? Given events such as the Watts Rebellion in 1965, should work that is not socially engaged be dismissed as “irrelevant”? These are among the urgent questions faced by black artists in the tumultuous 1963–83 period covered by “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.” Presenting roughly 150 works by sixty artists, along with documentary photographs and ephemera, the show traces the many variations in black artistic practice between the civil rights era and the heyday of the Black Power movement. Along the way, it investigates black feminism, the extensive use of murals, collectives such as Spiral and AfriCOBRA, black-owned galleries, The Black Panther illustrations, and other related topics. Participants include celebrated figures like Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, Betye Saar, Jack Whitten, Lorraine O’Grady, David Hammons, Faith Ringgold, and Noah Purifoy, as well as still under-known artists like Randy Williams and Elizabeth Catlett.
Born in Chicago, Elizabeth Murray (1940–2007) moved to New York in 1967. There, at a moment when some had declared painting dead, she became one of a heterogeneous group of artists—among them Jack Whitten, Mary Heilmann, Brice Marden, and Ron Gorchov—reinvigorating the medium. This show, the first institutional exhibition of Murray’s work in the UK, brings together a selection of her breakthrough multidimensional, multi-panel pieces of the 1980s and early 1990s. Employing canvas stretched over shaped supports and combining figuration with abstraction, these idiosyncratic—and often monumental—constructions drew from, among other sources, Cubism, Surrealism, early Modernist and Pop art, Abstract Expressionism, and cartooning. On view are paintings like Wake Up (1981) with its fractured image of a coffee cup; Bean, Summer (1982), featuring a cartoonish, comma-like form; and the colorful, biomorphic Sandpaper Fate (1992–93), as well as drawings and prints from the same period.
Taking her cue from the fragmented narratives of French New Wave cinema and “new novel” literature of the 1960s, New York-based artist Barbara Probst uses radio-controlled cameras to photograph her subjects simultaneously from several vantage points. The result is a multiplicity of perspectives on a single action or scene. A series of four photographs, for example, shows a man crossing a street from every corner of the intersection. In a nearby diptych, a man and a woman sitting side by side are captured by adjacent cameras. By presenting quite different renderings of the same moment in time, these pieces—like the rest of the works in this exhibition—suggest an infinity of additional views, challenging the authority of photographic “truth.”
DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT: Mary Ceruti (Walker Art Center, Minneapolis) on Education
DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT: Jennifer Doyle, Luke Fischbeck, Shoghig Halajian, and Eric Kim (Human Resources Los Angeles) on Inclusivity
DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT: Polly Staple (Chisenhale Gallery, London) on Value
DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT: Mélanie Bouteloup (Bétonsalon, Paris) on Hybrid Spaces
FIND GALLERIES AROUND YOU
FIND MUSEUMS AROUND YOU
HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR SISTER PUBLICATIONS