MATERIALITY AND PROCESS:
A SERIES OF FOCUSED EXHIBITIONS,
DRAWN FROM THE PERMANENT COLLECTION,
AND FEATURING RECENT ACQUISITIONS
Installation view of Materiality and Process: Truth to Materials. Photo: Gary Mamay
The Installation Explores the Process of Art Making,
Materials, and the Hand of the Artist in Nine Thematic Exhibitions
On View thru November 2017
The Parrish Art Museum presents Materiality and Process—a new installation of the permanent collection, on view until November 2017. This, the fifth annual such project, features significant recent acquisitions, many introducing artists new to the Museum’s collection. The 90 paintings, sculptures, mixed-media, and works on paper are presented in nine thematic narratives that illuminate the many ways in which modern and contemporary artists have embraced both creative processes and materials—beyond traditional media such as paint-on-canvas or charcoal and pencil on paper—in the service of their art.
“As an overarching theme, the idea of Materiality and Process gives the Parrish a great opportunity to mine the collection for excellent examples of the many ways in which artists have embraced a wide range of approaches to art making” said Parrish Art Museum Director Terrie Sultan.
Materiality and Process features several recent acquisitions that introduce renowned artists to the Parrish collection including Joe Brainard, Dan Colen, Kim MacConnel, Graham Nickson, and Josh Tonsfeldt. New works such as Portrait of Frank O’Hara by Alex Katz; Ray Johnson’s Untitled, 1965; and two drawings by Billy Sullivan—Max and10/22/91 3:15PM and 3:50PM—help expand the Museum’s holdings of key artists.
Yearly reinstallations of the permanent collection also provide the Museum with fresh opportunities to reveal works not previously seen in the current facility. Materiality and Process includes paintings on view for the first time by Grace Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, Conrad Marca-Relli, and Syd Solomon.
The overall theme of the exhibition is introduced in Truth to Materials with works that willingly reveal the physical process of art making and employ enthusiastic use of tactile materials—the latter dramatically depicted in Alfonso Ossorio’s Unsuccessful Tow, fabricated with horns, eyes, bones, and shells; and Louise Nevelson’s Untitled, where intricately cut pieces and found objects transform the viewer’s perception of what constitutes art. Tonsfeldt’s sculpture invites viewers to walk around, contemplate, and piece together strategically placed sensual materials designed to evoke memory—such as alligator hide, wood, acrylic, and glass. Emphasizing material and challenging the idea of a flat picture plane, Al Souza uses thousands of puzzle pieces as both the subject and medium of Cat Hair, and Joe Zucker builds up the surface of his painting with cotton balls soaked in paint. Alan Shields deconstructs the very concept of a painting on canvas in Devil, Devil Love, as does Kim MacConnel in Jingle, where unprimed fabric is painted, cut into strips and sewn together.
In Collective Conversation, five works spanning 50 years provide a dramatic exploration of materials, as well as architecture, geometry, solid form, and fleeting gesture, such as Dan Flavin’s work composed almost entirely of light; Keith Sonnier’s juxtaposition of solid shapes and fragile neon; Dorothea Rockburne’s wall installation combining folded canvas and drawing; Mel Kendrick’s experimentation with structure and texture through the medium of pulp paper; and Costantino Nivola’s technique of carving an image in wet sand and setting it with poured plaster.
Material Witness speaks to the sheer physical presence of paint itself, and how the artist’s application of it and use of color creates radiant and dynamic effects. In Blinds and Shades, Josh Dayton literally extends the painted surface by attaching sculptural forms to the canvas, while Herman Cherry and John Opper use color to create paintings that seem to vibrate with energy. Willem de Kooning’s ribbon-like strokes, cascading in swathes of vibrant color, attest to the primacy of the material substance in the evolution of painting. Six of the eight paintings in this exhibition are on view for the first time at the Water Mill location.
American Views, spanning nearly 100-years, reveals the process of artists who challenged the conventions of the Hudson River School by reimagining the landscape. Samuel Colman and George Henry Smillie opted for close-up studies of nature; Martin Johnson Heade focused on the effects of light on water; John Henry Twachtman and Childe Hassam applied the French Impressionists’ bright palette and vibrant brushwork to thoroughly American subjects; and April Gornik provides a visceral experience of the landscape with her large scale paintings.
One of the great American modernist painters was Fairfield Porter, and the Parrish is renowned for the depth and breadth of his works in the permanent collection. Fairfield Porter: Friends and Family presents a fresh look at Porter’s grasp of the very materiality of paint in a series of portraits that hover between straight-on depictions of people and abstract pictorial relationships between color and form. Using bold gestures in paint, Porter addresses the specific character of people, places, and things as they are—from two matter-of-fact yet tender paintings of the family’s Golden Retriever Bruno, to portraits of his young daughters in the familiar architecture of their home, surrounded by furniture and furnishings that likewise become active members of the scene.
The theme of process is explored in its most elemental and fundamental stages in Drawn in Black and White, with drawings that rely on limited color options by Norman Bluhm, April Gornik, Robert Motherwell, Billy Sullivan, and Esteban Vicente, among others. The exhibition reveals the liberation that can arise from limitation in works rendered in materials including charcoal, gouache, ink, watercolor, oil stick, and pencil
Two exhibitions consider the process of artistic collaboration—from the inherent intimacy between subject and photographer conveyed in Picturing Artists, to art making inspired by writers and the written word in Poets and Painters. Dan Colen was guided by the words of filmmaker Harmony Korine, and Mike Goldberg’s mixed media collage was initiated by Frank O’Hara and Bill Berkson, who sent the artist snippets of their writings on sheets of drawing paper. The most personal and compelling interactions between poets and painters can be seen in Katz’s Portrait of Frank O’Hara, and Sullivan’s watercolor of his long-time friend, poet Max Blagg.
A special presentation on view within Materiality and Process is Joe Zucker’s series of five etchings on rice paper, based on consideration of the spider and created in preparation for his1992 print project with Riverhouse Editions in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
The Permanent Collection 2017 installation is made possible, in part, by the generous support of Maren Otto, and the Joseph and Sylvia Slifka Foundation. The Museum’s programs are made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and by the property taxpayers from the Southampton School District and the Tuckahoe Common School District.
Inspired by the natural setting and artistic life of Long Island’s East End, the Parrish Art Museum illuminates the creative process and how art and artists transform our experiences and understanding of the world and how we live in it. The Museum fosters connections among individuals, art, and artists through care and interpretation of the collection, presentation of exhibitions, publications, educational initiatives, programs, and artists-in residence. The Parrish is a center for cultural engagement, an inspiration and destination for the region, the nation, and the world.