Exhibitions and Spring Art Books

This spring, we’re distributing three gorgeous art books that correspond with exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. We’re happy to extend the reach of these important and beautifully designed catalogues, published by each respective museum, and we hope you can make it out to an exhibition or two.

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Faith Ringgold (American, born 1930). For the Women’s House, 1971. Oil on canvas, 96 x 96 in. (243.8 x 243.8 cm). Courtesy of Rose M. Singer Center, Rikers Island Correctional Center. © 2017 Faith Ringgold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

A landmark exhibition on display at the Brooklyn Museum through September 17, We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85 examines the political, social, cultural, and aesthetic priorities of women of color during the emergence of second-wave feminism. It showcases the work of black women artists such as Emma Amos, Maren Hassinger, Senga Nengudi, Lorraine O’Grady, Howardena Pindell, Faith Ringgold, and Betye Saar, making it one of the first major exhibitions to highlight the voices and experiences of women of color. In so doing, it reorients conversations around race, feminism, political action, art production, and art history in this significant historical period.

The accompanying Sourcebook republishes an array of rare and little-known documents from the period by artists, writers, cultural critics, and art historians such as Gloria Anzaldúa, James Baldwin, bell hooks, Lucy R. Lippard, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Lowery Stokes Sims, Alice Walker, and Michelle Wallace. These documents include articles, manifestos, and letters from significant publications as well as interviews, some of which are reproduced in facsimile form. The Sourcebook also includes archival materials, rare ephemera, and an art-historical overview essay. Helping readers to move beyond standard narratives of art history and feminism, this volume will ignite further scholarship while showing the true breadth and diversity of black women’s engagement with art, the art world, and politics from the 1960s to the 1980s.

We Wanted a Revolution is curated by Catherine Morris and Rujeko Hockley. In addition to the Brooklyn Museum, it will also be on display at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles from October 13, 2017, through January 14, 2018; the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, from February 17, 2018, through May 27, 2018; and the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston from June 26, 2018, through September 30, 2018. Find more details about the exhibition or purchase the Sourcebook.

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Nina Chanel Abney, Incite (COM), 2015. Unique ultrachrome pigmented print, acrylic, and spray paint on canvas; 48 x 36 inches (121.92 x 91.44 cm). Collection of Isis Heslin and Jacqueline T. Martin. Image courtesy of Kravets | Wehby Gallery, New York, New York. © Nina Chanel Abney.

Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush, an exhibition at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, is a ten-year survey of one of the most provocative and iconoclastic artists working today. Abney is at the forefront of a generation of artists that is unapologetically revitalizing narrative figurative painting, and as a skillful story-teller, she visually articulates the complex social dynamics of contemporary urban life. Her works are informed as much by mainstream news media as they are by animated cartoons, video games, hip-hop culture, celebrity websites, and tabloid magazines. She draws on these sources to make paintings replete with figures, numbers, and words that appear to have tumbled onto the canvas with the stream-of-consciousness immediacy of text messages, pop-up windows, a Twitter feed, or the scrolling headlines of an incessant twenty-four-hour news cycle. By engaging loaded topics and controversial issues with irreverence, humor, and lampooning satire, Abney’s works are both pointed contemporary genre scenes as well as scathing commentaries on social attitudes and inequities.

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Abney poses with her work First and Last, part of the Nasher Museum’s collection and featured in the exhibition Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush. Photo by J Caldwell.

Abney’s first solo museum exhibition, Royal Flush comprises the artist’s large-scale paintings, along with smaller collages and watercolors. While her work has strong ties to important modernist forebears such as Robert Colescott, Stuart Davis, Romare Bearden, and Faith Ringgold, among others, its distinct and arresting visual articulation of the human condition is inherently suited to the rapid-fire and unceasing quality of the Digital Age. Her dense and colorful iconography, a skillful engagement with serious issues, and the provocative way in which she addresses them has brought this young artist increasing critical acclaim in the contemporary art world.

Royal Flush is on display at the Nasher Museum through July 16. The exhibition will travel to the Chicago Cultural Center (February 10–May 6, 2018) and then to Los Angeles, where it will be jointly presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the California African American Museum (September 23, 2018–January 20, 2019). The final venue for the exhibition is the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York (April 7–August 4, 2019).  Learn more about the exhibition or buy the catalogue.

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Jonathan Williams, Beauty and the Beast: Joel Oppenheimer and Francine du Plessix Gray, Black Mountain College, 1951, gelatin silver print. Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center Collection. Gift of the Artist. Courtesy of Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Collection. Permission to reproduce courtesy of Thomas Meyer.

During its relatively brief existence (1933–1957), Black Mountain College was an experimental liberal arts college that placed the arts at the center of its curriculum. Its faculty included leading members of the American avant-garde such as Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, Charles Olson, and Robert Creeley. While Black Mountain College is best known for its contributions to the visual arts, literature, music, and dance, Begin to See: The Photographers of Black Mountain College, curated by Julie J. Thomson, shows how photography was also an important part of the curriculum. Photography began as an informal workshop in the 1930s and was taught through 1953. Josef Albers and Hazel Larsen Archer played important roles in this, including inviting many notable photographers to teach during the college’s summer sessions.

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Nancy Newhall and Anni Albers, Untitled (Photogram), 1948, vintage gelatin silver print. ©1948, Nancy Newhall, ©2017, the Estate of Beaumont and Nancy Newhall. Permission to reproduce courtesy of Scheinbaum and Russek Ltd., Santa Fe, New Mexico. Courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

While thousands of photographs were made at Black Mountain College, there has not been a detailed examination of photography at the college. Begin to See is the first in-depth exhibition and catalog devoted to this topic. Organized around the themes of Available Light, Bearing Witness, Performing for the Camera, Experimentation, and Place, this catalog includes essays, photographer biographies, and a chronology about photography at Black Mountain College. It features over 100 photographs by more than forty artists including Josef Albers, Hazel Larsen Archer, Harry Callahan, Robert Haas, Barbara Morgan, Beaumont Newhall, Nancy Newhall, Andy Oates, Robert Rauschenberg, Aaron Siskind, Cy Twombly, Stan VanDerBeek, Susan Weil, and Jonathan Williams.

Read more about the exhibition, on display through May 20 at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, or purchase the catalog.

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