Douglas BlauSeptember 5 - December 7, 2008
To open the season, ICA is pleased to present new work by New York artist Douglas Blau. This will be Blau's first exhibition of new work in nearly a decade. The exhibition also features an earlier piece The Conversation Piece (1993/1995), which depicts political dialogue in all its variety, from tête-à-têtes to the legislative body, throughout the ages.
Douglas Blau, The Naturalist Gathers, 1992, installation view, SteinGladstone, New York
Douglas Blau creates picture epics and episodes from uniformly framed collages of printed matter. Postcards, film stills, images of paintings and photographs, pictures of all kinds are cut and pasted into individual collage elements. These are composed into sequences, strips and grids, based on formal and narrative associations that flow from frame-to-frame. The big picture is depiction itself. Centuries of picture making appear distilled through Blau's art into an essential cast of characters and repertoire of plots, periods, styles, locations, and genres. Only the details and degrees of abstraction vary over time and through reproduction, the mechanics of which produce the shifts of tone and color, different inks and papers that Blau orchestrates into each overall composition.
Douglas Blau, Stills, 1994, installation view, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Since the 1980s, Douglas Blau has used words and pictures interchangeably to create a highly regarded and unique body of work. He emerged as a critic and curator in tandem with the Pictures Generation of artists. In 1987, his exhibition "Fictions" was the first in a maverick series to apply curatorial practice to the construction of explicit narratives. These fictions further unfolded through Blau's writings—including influential essays on Troy Brauntuch, Vija Celmins, Mark Tansey and Elizabeth Peyton, among other artists—in which invented characters, travelogues, and indexes constitute an unusually literary account of contemporary art's place in Western art history.
Douglas Blau, The Conversation Piece, 1993/95, mixed media assemblage, 3 x 15 feet (3 x 45 feet overall), installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Photo: Aaron Igler
Douglas Blau, installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Photo: Aaron Igler
Douglas Blau (b. 1955 Los Angeles, lives New York) attended the graduate program in Cinema Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, after taking degrees in both Fine Arts and Art History at Washington University, Saint Louis. His past exhibitions include: "Fictions: A Selection of Pictures from the 18th, 19th, and 20th Centuries," at Curt Marcus Gallery and Kent Fine Art, New York, 1987; "The Times, The Chronicle & The Observer," Kent Fine Art, New York, 1991; "The Naturalist Gathers" at SteinGladstone, New York, and Thomas Solomon's Garage, Los Angeles, 1992; and "Stills," Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1994. His writings have appeared in numerous magazines and gallery and museum publications with titles including: "Solid Air" an essay for the 1992 Vija Celmins exhibition at ICA, Philadelphia; "Index (from The Naturalist Gathers)" in Deep Storage, 1997; and "The Studio," a picture essay for the 1997 Whitney Biennial exhibition catalog.
This exhibition is organized by Senior Curator Ingrid Schaffner, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.
» SOLID AIR (Richard Archer's Letters on Vija Celmins) [130K PDF]
» Consider the Sphere [52K PDF]
Related Public Programs:
Exhibition Walkthrough: ICA Members-Only
thurs sept 4 @ 5pm
With artist Douglas Blau and ICA Senior Curator Ingrid Schaffner.
First Sunday Tour
sun oct 5 @ 1pm
Ph.D candidate from Penn's Department of the History of Art Ruth Erickson examines Douglas Blau’s relentless distillation of picture-making over the centuries.
Whenever Wednesday: Event: Talking Pictures
wed nov 19 @ 7pm
Douglas Blau’s work can be described as a form of prose, various imagery of individual moments that collectively form a greater story, left to the viewer to interpret. Come listen to stories that Douglas Blau’s pictures can tell when members of the Penn community narrate works in the current exhibition from the vantages of a diversity of disciplines.
FREE to members, $5 general admission
Whenever Wednesday: Lecture: Douglas Blau
wed dec 3 @ 7pm
New York artist, critic, and curator Douglas Blau will discuss his sprawling new picture epic on view at ICA, as well as his landmark installations, writings, and exhibitions from the past three decades.
image top of page: Douglas Blau, The Annunciation, 2002, studio view, mixed media assemblage, 3 x18 feet. Photo: John Ehrenclou