By Susan Danly
Curator of Graphics, Photography, and Contemporary Art
One of the best parts of my job is pulling together new installations from our permanent collection. It gives me an opportunity to “get creative.” Because I’m not an artist, but an historian, this is my equivalent of “making art.” I look for relationships between artists, between works of art, and between ideas inherent in the objects themselves. I always see new things in my old favorites and find new ways to understand how artists work.
I also firmly believe in a pluralistic approach to contemporary art. There was no one straight line from Monet to the Abstract Expressionists as we were once taught. Instead, there are lots of twists and turns, slow meanders, and even some dead ends—all of which make the journey more fun. So this latest incarnation of our contemporary gallery tells a slightly different story. This one is about surfaces.
Here’s a bit of a preview:
Since the advent of Abstract Expressionism in the mid-1950s, many artists have been concerned with “activating” the surface of their work. To do so, they employ a host of attention-seeking techniques: the use of highly saturated color, thickly applied globs of paint called impasto, visible drips of more liquid paint, the layering and scraping of paint, organic matter imbedded in paint or plaster, and applied assemblages of wood and fabric.
These are just some of the surfaces you will find on view now in the third floor galleries. Come on in and take a closer look for yourself.