July 11, 2019
Is Maximalism the Most Overlooked Art Movement Ever?
July 11, 2019
By Nadja Sayej

Is Maximalism the Most Overlooked Art Movement Ever?
July 11, 2019
By Nadja Sayej

Just when you thought minimalism was eternally in vogue, a new art exhibit proves otherwise, and it has the best title: “Less is a Bore.” The Boston ICA recently opened this group show, touting the movement's gaudy print, clashing colors and dizzying designs. Curator Jenelle Porter, who worked alongside assistant curator Jeffrey De Blois, says the inspiration partly came from interior design magazines and how fake they are.

“Every time you look at Shelter magazine, it’s like, people don’t even live in these houses,” said Porter. “It’s so plain, it’s not my taste. Minimalism portrays a kind of wealth, that the less you have the more refined you are, but we all have maximalist tendencies.”

It all started by looking at the Pattern and Decoration art movement from the 1970s, an American art movement from the 1970s and 1980s, which includes works by Miriam Schapiro, Joyce Kozloff and Gloria Klein. It’s what Porter says, “has been somewhat forgotten.” But is maximalism an art movement, per se? “It wasn’t ideas of maximalism that guides these artists. I consider it an under-recognized approach, more than an art movement,” said Porter.

The exhibition, running until September 22, features artworks by Kehinde Wiley, Sol LeWitt, Polly Apfelbaum, Jasper Johns and the Memphis Group. Among them, here are five key pieces in the exhibit that bring life back to the gallery walls, from patterned wallpaper to a grandma’s tablecloth and Memphis Group furniture.

Ettore Sottsass, founder of the Italian postmodern design collective the Memphis Group, made some of the most outlandish furniture in the 1980s, which defined the design of the decade. “Maximalist design can’t always be calming, it can make people uncomfortable,” said Porter. “You have to be comfortable with discomfort.” This piece is what she calls “bringing back history into the vocabulary of design,” and asks: “Why is everything being stripped away? Decoration and ornamentation is very human.”

Nathalie du Pasquier was another Memphis Group designer in Italy, pioneering works with color, pattern and repetition for clothing design, textiles and furniture throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Today, she works as an artist in Milan. “She did amazing things with patterns, and did a lot of patterns with Memphis,” said Porter. Here at the Boston ICA, she created a custom wall piece based on one of her designs; a city grid with buildings made into a wallpaper. “It’s a decorated grid,” she said.

This self-portrait photograph shows Filipina artist Stephanie Syjuco dressed up in a variety of patterned clothing, many of which oppose each other in dizzying compositions. “It’s from her series where she goes shopping at malls, buys things and photographs herself wearing ethnic prints that hail from all over the globe,” said Porter. “She then returns all the clothing to the store. You can see she leaves the tags on. Dressing up in disguise in standard consumer apparel, she’s putting a charged object back on the rack, nobody really knows that.”

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Robert Venturi is mainly known for his buildings (many which call to mind pastel-hued towers that might belong in a Wes Anderson film), but his design work goes beyond that. “He made a floral pattern borrowed from someone’s grandmother’s tablecloth,” said Porter. “Then, he added Jasper Johns hatch marks that was popular in the 1970s, it’s an atmosphere. I wanted to show it just as fabric.”

A key artist in the Pattern and Decoration movement, artist Joyce Kozloff is known for her pattern-based textiles, collages and paintings from the 1970s to the present. By using mostly floral patterns that call to mind vintage tablecloths, they’re all intricately handmade. “The tiles in her work reference Middle Eastern and Chinese patterns, anywhere but the west,” said Porter. “They’re places where the histories are older, it’s a way to pay homage to other cultures, all are equally important.”

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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