Saints and Sinners
“Saints and Sinners” takes advantage of the rich diversity of the Rose collection, as well as the distinctive architecture of its upper and lower atrium galleries to present a light-hearted look at a fundamental division in modern and contemporary art between the spiritual and the material, the eternal and the everyday, and abstraction and the natural world. Modernity created a challenge for contemporary artists to rethink not only what new art would look like, but what it would do and whom it would reach. From the beginning of the 20th century until the beginning of the 21st, two distinct approaches can be gleaned; the first attempts to integrate art into the world that surrounds it by depicting or incorporating everything in that world from the quotidian details of a daily meal, to the epic drama of passion or death. The subject of artists as diverse as Pablo Picasso, Claes Oldenburg and Dana Schutz is what has been derisively described as the “meat world” of creatures and their pre-occupations; food, sex, love, violent accident. As “sinners,” the artists make work that is visceral, familiar, and self-reflexive - both of the environment from which it springs, and about it. These works communicate directly, and in an image-language known to all.
Those who choose an opposite course, to create new forms in counter-distinction to those found in nature or culture, are no less intent upon communication, but their means are inchoate. The “saints” in this exhibition are absolutist abstractionists like Wassily Kandinsky, and Julie Mehretu, utopians like Ad Reinhardt, Liam Gillick and Carol Bove, and mystics like Alfred Jensen and Jim Lambie. Their realm is in the “luft;” the immaterial where color equals sound and thought equals color, and religion can be explained by a beautiful diagram or embodied by a perfect machine. If culture is with the sinners, science is the realm of the saints, the mad inventors and futurologists who send their signals through forms that had not yet been discovered until the moment that they were created.
This exhibition includes work in all mediums from the Rose’s permanent collection, supplemented by a few key loans of contemporary art from private collections.
Images: (above) Liam Gillick, Short Production Cycle, 2005-06, Powder coated aluminum, transparent Plexiglass, 20 x 59 x 8", Courtesy of the Artist and Casey Kaplan, New York. (right) Saul Fletcher, Untitled # 158 (Tula), 2004, C-type print, 5 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches, Courtesy Anton Kern Gallery, NY.