Drawn to Detail features a variety of contemporary drawings with a very particular focus. This exhibition displays the work of 26 American artists who explore extreme attention to detail, obsessive mark-making, repetition, patterning, laborious process, all-over intricate design, and horror vacui (fear of empty space). These artists draw with extreme attention to detail as a reaction to today’s hectic lifestyle and technological advancements, and also because of their desire to make sense of the changing world around them. In addition to traditional mediums of graphite, charcoal, and pen and ink, these artists also work with materials such as string, tape and smoke, and practices adopted from the world of craft.
In today’s fast-paced, digital world, we rarely have time for detail. Attention deficit disorders prevail, while advertisers feed on our need to multitask and to find timesaving shortcuts wherever we can. The artists in this exhibition add detail, work with a detailed visual vocabulary, or even detail the passage of time by listing and recording the particulars of events. They can render an abstraction or a recognizable image, sometimes so small that the viewer needs a magnifying glass to decipher it. Artists like Julie Mehretu, whose work derives from sources as wide-ranging as architectural and city plans to weather maps, make individual marks which seem to disappear into “the larger context of the whole” as the viewer moves back from the image.
The extreme detail found throughout the works in this exhibition suggests that much of it is a result of careful planning. Yet many of these drawings in fact develop organically, each line a response to the last. Slowly building an image out of tiny dots, lines, cuts, and repetitive marks can becomes a form of meditation for some artists. Some artists use a strategy descended from conceptual art – that of creating a set of rules that determine the outcome of the work. For example, artist Tom Friedman, creases a piece of paper and then draws lines on all the creases, creating order out of chaos and chaos out of order.
The intense labor of these artists results in the complete entrancement of the viewer. We are attracted to these images because they require close scrutiny. When the drawing fills our vision we get lost in the enveloping detail, finding that the miniscule can be as overwhelming as the colossal. This experience makes us rethink how we relate to the world. It is reassuring to know that there are those who do stop and examine things with care, who value the direct mark of the hand, and who find a meditative calm in slowing down.
The exhibition features artists: Alice Attie, Astrid Bowlby, Jim Dingilian, Jacob El Hanani, Dave Eppley, Tom Friedman, Darina Karpov, Laura Kim, Ricardo Lanzarini, Martha Lewis, Cynthia Lin, Marco Maggi, Louise Marshall, Jane Masters, Julie Mehretu, Tadashi Moriyama, Mary O’Malley, Carol Prusa, Jessica Deane Rosner, Andrea Sulzer, Kako Ueda, Julia von Eichel, Rachel Perry Welty, David Omar White, Martin Wilner, and Daniel Zeller.
Drawn to Detail is accompanied by a 48-page catalogue. Funding for the exhibition and publication has been generously provided by Joyce and Edward Linde, Erica and Robert Mason, Melissa S. Meyer, Anthony and Beth Terrana, Penny and Jeff Vinik, and one anonymous member of the Museum’s Collections and Exhibitions Committee.
This exhibition is organized by Director of Curatorial Affairs Rachel Rosenfield Lafo and Koch Curatorial Fellows Kate Dempsey and Nina Bozicnik.
Stacey Steers: Phantom Canyon is a 2006 animated film that explores a woman’s fantastical journey through memories. Artist Stacey Steers is “interested in creative engagement with reality through the medium of memory, both as a social force involving shared symbols and artifacts and as an investigation of [my] own personal experience.” Composed of over 4000 handmade collages (or about eight for every second of animation), the film’s surrealist imagery is a mixture of 18th and 19th century engravings and Eadweard Muybridge’s human and animal locomotion photographs. Approximately 50 of Steer’s collages used in the production of Phantom Canyon will also be on view in the Media Space.
This exhibition has been organized by Director of Curatorial Affairs Rachel Rosenfield Lafo.
By combining domestic and industrial imagery and objects, Cal Lane breaks down function by exposing visual patterns. Lane applies decorative patterns such as lace to objects designed solely for function, such as steel I-beams, oil drums, wheelbarrows, shovels, and dumpsters. These masculine utilitarian objects are thus feminized and transformed from their original use to become beautiful objects often charged with politically meaning.
Cal Lane’s unique background as both a hairdresser and an industrial welder has informed her practice as a contemporary artist. She creates sculptures that are equally ornamental and tough. Using a plasma cutter or an oxy-acetylene torch, she incises intricate decorative patterns and designs into industrial cast-offs. By juxtaposing the domestic with the industrial, she subverts the original function of the steel object, and adopts a feminist strategy from the 1970s that validates domestic craft as a fine art.
For Cal Lane: Crude, Lane patterns I-beams, an oil tank, and oil drums stacked to construct a column. These heavy, rusty metal objects are transformed into transparent, delicate sculptures that reference maps, medieval tapestries, and architectural ornamentation. The title for the installation, Crude, not only refers to the original uses of the drums and tank but also comments on the consequences of our dependence on oil. The seductiveness of the artist’s sculpture is a foil to their political connotations.
The installation of Cal Lane: Crude is supported by the Nathaniel Saltonstall Arts Fund. Director of Curatorial Affairs Rachel Rosenfield Lafo organized this exhibition.
Director of Curatorial Affairs Rachel Rosenfield Lafo is delighted to announce the artists selected for The 2008 DeCordova Annual Exhibition. DeCordova’s Curators have selected 12 artists/artist teams—who work in a variety of media including painting, installation, performance, sculpture, drawing, and photography—for The 2008 DeCordova Annual Exhibition. The selected artists are: Mitchel K. Ahern, Matt Brackett, Leah Gauthier, The Institute for Infinitely Small Things, Niho Kozuru, Eva Lee, Yana Payusova, David Prifti, Kirsten Reynolds, Mark Schoening, Vanessa Tropeano, and Marguerite White.
Originally titled the Artists/Visions series, the DeCordova Annual has showcased the works of emerging, mid-career, and established artists since 1989. This exhibition highlights the work of a limited number of contemporary artists from the six New England states and emphasizes the quality and variety of works rather than any single or overarching theme. Each year the DeCordova Annual seeks to feature some of most innovative artists working in the region.
The DeCordova Annual is the backbone of the Museum’s exhibition program, solidly reflecting our mission. The series also reinforces DeCordova’s commitment to regional artists, and its leadership position in celebrating contemporary art in New England.
The exhibition is organized by Director of Curatorial Affairs Rachel Rosenfield Lafo, Curator Nick Capasso, Assistant Curator Dina Deitsch, and Koch Curatorial Fellow Kate Dempsey. The 2008 DeCordova Annual Exhibition has been funded by the Deborah A. Hawkins Charitable Trust.
PIXNIT is the pseudonym, and perhaps alter-ego of an artist whose identity is currently unknown. The artist adopted this name (based on the Latin phrase me pinxit, “I painted this,” which often accompanies artist signatures on European Late Medieval and Renaissance paintings) in 2006, to protect herself as she embarked on an ambitious project of urban guerilla graffiti art in Boston and Los Angeles. Now PIXNIT increasingly turns her attention to the creation of large scale site-specific installations in places devoted to contemporary art, like galleries, art fairs, and alternative spaces. Folie que la nouveauté, commissioned and designed for The Café @ DeCordova, is her first museum installation.
PIXNIT’s work on the streets significantly informs her indoor aesthetic. Her graffiti art was based not on the familiar bold and highly stylized “tags” (signatures) which became the dominant form of unofficial urban art in the 1980s, but rather on imagery based on the history of decorative arts, applied with spray paint through hand-cut stencils. By inserting visual quotations from 17th- through 19th-century architectural ornament, ironwork, and wallpaper into the contemporary urban fabric, PIXNIT created an anonymous public art that commented on urban design, decorative fashion, the uses and misuses of social space, and issues surrounding renewal and beautification.
Here in The Café, PIXNIT’s technique and sources remain the same, but are complicated and enriched by several factors. Foremost is her prominent reproduction of a 1797 etching by Alexis Chataigner, which satirically contrasts characteristic dress and behavior before and after the French Revolution. PIXNIT’s imagery also responds specifically to the unique architectural, functional, and social space of The Café itself. In sum, Folie que la nouveauté addresses the perennial interweavings of fashion and politics, the contemporary and the historical, and the real and the faux. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same).
Presumed Innocence: Photographic Perspectives of Children features images of children in vintage and contemporary photographs that range in date from the early twentieth century to the present day. These photographic works of art were selected from the private collection of Anthony and Beth Terrana, whose vision relies on direct emotional response to the dramatic and timeless quality of each image, rather than on any attempt at encyclopedic or systematic collecting.
The 113 photographs and single video in Presumed Innocence were made by photographers who characteristically focus on children, and also by those who occasionally photograph children. The international collection is rich in traditional documentary and socially concerned photography, and also includes images created with newer digital technologies that enable the photographer to create partially or wholly fictitious images. The selected images fall loosely into the following thematic and often overlapping categories: the child alone, family relationships, children and animals, the child observed, the child at play, the child at risk, rites of passage, and constructed narratives.
The children in these photographs are sweet and tough, innocent and wise, cherished and victimized, joyous and sorrowful, carefree and desperate. Although all of these pictures have been taken in a particular place at a specific time, they are timeless because they speak to conditions that children experienced universally. The photographs also raise many challenging questions: Can a photograph of a child ever be entirely innocent? What are the aesthetic and personal implications of a parent as photographer? How have images of children changed over time? What’s more important, the artist’s intention or the viewer’s perception? How much do our personal, religious, and political beliefs affect our reading of the photograph?
The featured photographers are: Ansel Adams, Shelby Lee Adams, Catherine Angel, Diane Arbus, Ilse Bing, Julie Blackmon, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Henri Cartier-Bresson , Mike Brodie, Leslee Broersma, Debbie Fleming Caffery, Chan Chao, Michal Chelbin, Clark + Pougnaud (Christophe Clark and Virginie Pougnaud), Mark Cohen, Paul D’Amato , Bruce Davidson , Rineke Dijkstra , Alfred Eisenstaedt, Martin Elkort, Elliot Erwitt , Lalla Essaydi, Larry Fink, Martine Franck, Andrea Frank, Robert Frank, Tierney Gearon, Margi Geerlinks, Gour (Kids with Cameras), Emmet Gowin, Robin Graubard, Anne Hall, David Hilliard, Lewis Hine, Julie Holcombe, Pieter Hugo , Simen Johan, Kenneth Josephson, Anastasia Khoroshilova, William Klein, Ingar Krauss , Heinrich K ü hn, Dorothea Lange, Gillian Laub , Jocelyn Lee, Arthur Leipzig, Leon Levinstein, Helen Levitt , Elmar Ludwig, Loretta Lux, Robert Lyons, Sally Mann, Constantine Manos, Mary Ellen Mark, McDermott and McGough, Laura McPhee, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Andrea Modica, Tina Modotti, Abelardo Morell, Rachelle Mozman, Bob Natkin, Jehad Nga, Nicholas Nixon, Luis Gonz á lez Palma, Polixeni Papapetrou, Martin Parr, Gösta Peterson, Melissa Ann Pinney, Nicholas Prior, Sebastião Salgado, Frederick Sommer , Erika Stone, Angela Strassheim, Helen M. Stummer, Jock Sturges, Antanas Sutkus , Joseph Szabo, Guy Tillim, Katherine Turczan, Doris Ulmann, Brian Ulrich, Roman Vishniac, Alex Webb, Weegee, and Liu Zheng.
The Museum is grateful to Anthony and Beth Terrana for their passion and commitment to collecting, their generosity in lending the photographs, and their enthusiastic support of this exhibition and its catalogue. Emily Havens, the Terrana’s curator, was also an invaluable resource and collaborator on this project. Presumed Innocence would not have been possible without the assistance of Kate Dempsey, Koch Curatorial Fellow and Lisa Sutcliffe, former Koch Curatorial Fellow. Exhibition labels were prepared by Kate Dempsey and Nina Bozicnik, Curatorial Intern. Artist quotes that appear on the labels were either submitted directly by the photographers or found in a variety of published sources.
Presumed Innocence is installed in thematic categories in the third floor Joyce and Edward Linde Galleries, the James and Audrey Foster Galleries, and the Fourth Floor hallway gallery. The one video in the exhibition is installed in the Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Media Space. There will be a special Gallery Talk with the exhibition's curator and the collector; see below for details.
The exhibition is accompanied by a 160-page full-color catalogue. The catalogue includes two essays, one by Director of Curatorial Affairs Rachel Rosenfield Lafo, curator of the exhibition, discussing the range of photographic work in the Terrana collection and how it relates to the history of photography, and the second by Anne Higonnet, Professor of Art History at Barnard College, about the changing concept of childhood in visual imagery. The catalogue also includes full page reproductions of each photograph, brief biographies of the artists, and a checklist for the exhibition. Designed by Wilcox Design and published by DeCordova Museum, the catalogue is 12 x 9 inches in an edition of 2500.