THE CLARK’S RESEARCH AND ACADEMIC PROGRAM PRESENTS A SYMPOSIUM ON MID-CENTURY ABSTRACTION

For Immediate Release

August 22, 2014
 
Williamstown, MA—The Clark Art Institute presents the Symposium “Make It New? Conversations on Mid-century Abstraction” on Saturday, September 6 from 1–5 pm in the Hunter Studio at the Lunder Center at Stone Hill.
 
This Clark Symposium, held in conjunction with the presentation of the exhibition Make It New: Abstract Painting from the National Gallery of Art, 1950–1975, brings three distinguished artists to the Clark to reflect on the effects and consequences of mid-century abstraction with interlocutors of their choice.
 
In 1960, artist Philip Guston stated, “There is something ridiculous and miserly in the myth that we inherit from abstract art. We are image-makers and image-ridden.” This Symposium reconsiders this statement from a current perspective. How have abstract art’s "myths," as well as those generated to counter them, stood the test of time? How are artists and writers dealing with the impurity and limitations that obtained to so much art lauded for its virtue and freedom? What characteristics of mid-century abstraction continue to matter, and how? Yve-Alain Bois, professor, Institute for Advanced Study, will provide closing remarks. 
 
The Symposium is free and open to the public; it is supported by a grant from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation.
 
Symposium participants:
 
Yve-Alain Bois is a specialist in twentieth-century European and American art and is recognized as an expert on a wide range of artists, from Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso to Piet Mondrian, Barnett Newman, and Ellsworth Kelly. He has curated and co-curated a number of influential exhibitions, including Piet Mondrian, A Retrospective (1994); L’informe, mode d’emploi (1996); Matisse and Picasso: A Gentle Rivalry (1999); and Picasso Harlequin 1917–1937 (2008). His books include Painting as Model (1990); Formless: A User’s Guide (with Rosalind Krauss, 1997); Matisse and Picasso (1998); and Art Since 1900 (with Benjamin Buchloh, Hal Foster, and Rosalind Krauss, 2004). Bois is currently working on several long-term projects, including a study of Barnett Newman’s paintings, the catalogue raisonné of Ellsworth Kelly’s paintings and sculptures, and the modern history of axonometric projection.
 
Thomas Eggerer lives and works in New York. While drawing has always been a key component in Eggerer's painting, sumptuous color now plays a central role in relation to his drawing: figures are now embedded in expansive fields of color that have been poured, brushed, and scrubbed, effectively reversing the artist’s usual hierarchy of figure and ground. Eggerer's enlarged and flattened-out spaces signal new complexities that arise in his narratives. The figures that populate these works are busy, yet they labor at tasks that remain rather mysterious. They are neither joyous nor tragic in effect, but are absorbed in their actions – as performative agents in landscapes with no clear-cut horizon lines, an ambivalent opacity allows questions to emerge.
 
One-person exhibitions have been mounted at Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne in 1999, 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2011; Richard Telles, Los Angeles in 2001, 2003, and 2008; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford in 2002; at the Kunstverein Braunschweig in 2003; Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York in 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2013; Maureen Paley, London in 2012; and at the Frans Hals Museum in the Netherlands in 2008.
 
Vincent Katz is a poet, critic, and translator. He is the author of eleven books of poetry and two books of translations, and his criticism has been published in numerous books, catalogues, and journals. He curated an exhibition on Black Mountain College for the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and is the editor of Black Mountain College: Experiment In Art (MIT, 2002; reprinted 2013). He is the author of the book of translations The Complete Elegies Of Sextus Propertius (Princeton, 2004), winner of the 2005 National Translation Award from the American Literary Translators Association, and author of Alcuni Telefonini, a book of poems done in collaboration with painter Francesco Clemente (Granary Books, 2008). He was the recipient of a Rome Prize Fellowship in Literature for 2001–2002 and has had residencies at the American Academy in Berlin and Yaddo. Katz is the publisher of the poetry and arts journal VANITAS and of Libellum books. He curates the Readings in Contemporary Poetry Series at Dia Art Foundation in New York City. 
 
Byron Kim was born in La Jolla, California in 1961, received a B.A. in English at Yale in 1983, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1986. Kim’s large painting installation called “Synecdoche,” which depicts human skin color, was included in the 1993 Whitney Biennial. His solo museum exhibitions include “Matrix 125“ at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford (1994), “Grey-Green“ at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. (1996) as well as “Threshold,” a survey of Kim’s work which was curated by Eugenie Tsai and originated at the Berkeley Art Museum in 2004; it has traveled to the Samsung Museum of Modern Art in Seoul, Korea, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington in Seattle, and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.  

Among the awards Kim has received are The Louise Nevelson Award in Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1993), the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (1994), the New York Foundation for the Arts Grant (1994), the National Endowment for the Arts Award (1995), the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (1997), and the Alpert Award in the Arts (2008). His work is included in the collections of Art Institute of Chicago, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the National Gallery of Art, the Wadsworth Athenaeum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and others. Kim is represented by James Cohan Gallery in New York and PKM Gallery in Seoul, Korea.
 
Glenn Ligon lives and works in New York. Ligon received a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University in 1982 and attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in 1985. A mid-career retrospective of Ligon’s work, Glenn Ligon: America, organized by Scott Rothkopf, opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art in March 2011. The exhibition traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the fall of 2011 and to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in early 2012. Ligon has been the subject of solo museum exhibitions at the Power Plant in Toronto, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, and the Kunstverein Munich. His work was included in Documenta XI in 2002 and the 1991 and 1993 Whitney Biennials. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his work, including the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 1997, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2003, the Skowhegan Medal for Painting in 2006, the Studio Museum’s Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize in 2009, and a United States Artists Fellowship in 2010.
 
Brice Marden received an MFA from the Yale School of Art and Architecture in 1963. It was at Yale, under instruction from artists including Alex Katz and Jon Schueler and working alongside students Richard Serra and Chuck Close, that Marden arrived at the rectangular format and muted, extremely individualized palette that characterize his early monochromatic panels. Over the course of his career Marden's work has developed to reveal the range of influences he has absorbed during his travels throughout the world. The light and landscape of the Greek island of Hydra and the art, landscape, and culture of Asia are manifested in the heightened colors and calligraphic gestures of his more recent work, which, expanding beyond the strictures of Minimalism, reincorporates landscape and the figure into abstract painting while reconnecting it with Abstract Expressionism and non-Western traditions.
 
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, presented a retrospective exhibition of Marden's work in 2006, and he has been the subject of one-person exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Documenta IX, Kassel; and the Serpentine Gallery and Tate Gallery, London. Marden (born 1938) lives and works in New York.
 
Amy Sillman lives and works in New York. Her work foregrounds the materiality of painting and its formal, psychological, and conceptual dimensions. She has received numerous awards and grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, the Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin in 2009, and in the fall this year a Resident Fellowship at The American Academy in Rome. Her work has been widely exhibited and is included in numerous public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The first large-scale survey of her work, one lump or two, curated by Helen Molesworth, opened at the ICA Boston, and is currently on view at the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, and is accompanied by a monograph. Sillman will be included in a group show of contemporary painting at MoMA next December.
 
 
ABOUT THE CLARK
 
The Clark Art Institute is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, open to the public with more than 240,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.
 
The Clark opened its expanded facilities on July 4, 2014, unveiling new and enhanced spaces that accommodate the continued growth of the Institute’s programs. Included in this final stage of the project are the new 42,600-square-foot Clark Center designed by Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, expansion and renovation of the original Museum Building and the ongoing renovation of the Manton Research Center by Selldorf Architects, and a sweeping redesign of the grounds by Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture. The first phase of the campus expansion project was completed in 2008 with the opening of the Lunder Center at Stone Hill, a striking conservation and exhibitions facility also designed by Tadao Ando.
 
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Opening season hours: Galleries open daily from July 4 through October 13, 2014, 10 am to 5 pm (Fridays in July and August until 7 pm). From October 14, 2014 through June 30, 2015: Galleries open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20 through October 31, 2014 and free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more information, visit clarkart.edu or call 413 458 2303.
 
Press contact:
Sally Morse Majewski
The Clark
[email protected]