artists & participants
Washington, DC – The 48th Corcoran Biennial: Closer to Home takes as its focus contemporary artists making use of traditional arts methods, favoring earnest individual expression and historically resonant aesthetic dialogue over high-tech media. While recent Corcoran Biennial exhibitions have dealt with the legacy of conceptual art and new media, Closer to Home marks a return to the exhibition’s origins and considers the familiar territories of traditional media – such as canvas, paint and wood – while giving prominence to the work of Washington, DC-based artists. The Corcoran Biennial, among the oldest continuous biennials in the world, was founded in 1907 and since its inception has retained a focus on new American work of exceptional quality. The 48th Corcoran Biennial: Closer to Home is on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art from March 19 through June 27, 2005.
Closer to Home showcases the following artists, whose choice of materials, subjects or styles are all in some way informed by the traditional arts: Rev. Ethan Acres, Chakaia Booker, Matthew Buckingham, Colby Caldwell, George Condo, Adam Fuss, James Huckenpahler, John Lehr, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Richard Rezac, Dana Schutz, Jeff Spaulding, Kathryn Spence, Austin Thomas and Monique van Genderen.
The exhibition’s title, Closer to Home, deliberately invites various levels of interpretation, suggesting foremost a literal reference to domesticity, warmth and comfort – ideas and feelings that several Biennial artists evoke in their work. New York-based artist Austin Thomas constructs homespun architectural perches that are evocative of indoor tree houses and allow museumgoers to share space, sit and relax. Kathryn Spence, who works in San Francisco, makes use of quotidian materials and familiar household products, positioning objects such as rolls of paper towels as starting points for her intricately detailed embroidery.
This focus on domestic themes is also evident in the work of Washington, DC-based photographer Colby Caldwell. Using 8mm movies, the staple of late-century family gatherings, Caldwell creates manipulated stills and videos that express his fascination with the way history and life stories are passed among generations. Creating a pastiche of vintage footage from his childhood and contemporary footage captured with an antique Super 8 camera, Caldwell attempts to distill and re-evoke the feeling of a place or moment in a single emotional record.
Eschewing the present-day fashion for computers and multi-media extravagance, the artists of this Biennial – like influential New York-based painter George Condo – tend to embrace an aesthetic that speaks to time-honored traditions and the history of art. Condo’s fantasy portraits interweave painterly styles that range from the 18th to the 20th centuries; he calls this work “artificial realism” for its contemporary treatment of art historical convention. The resultant disconcerting character of his pictures seems to transform the moribund Old-Master portraits into a relevant expression of contemporary malaise.
This year’s Biennial takes as another part of its focus artists who live and work in the Washington, DC area. Remarks Corcoran Associate Curator of Contemporary Art and exhibition co-organizer Stacey Schmidt, “As the first museum in the nation’s capital, the Corcoran is especially committed to supporting the work of DC-based artists.” Among these are photographers Caldwell and John Lehr, digital artist James Huckenpahler and sculptor Jeff Spaulding.
“Importantly, technology was never precluded from our selection process,” notes Corcoran Curator of Contemporary Art and exhibition co-organizer Jonathan P. Binstock. “In fact, several of the Biennial artists do use video, digital or computer technology in their work. Nonetheless, we were most interested in artists whose choice of materials, subjects or styles have a strong relationship to more traditional modes of artmaking and evoke the familiar beginnings – or home – of various forms of aesthetic practice.”
CATALOGUE The Corcoran Gallery of Art will publish an 80-page hardcover catalogue to accompany Closer to Home. This catalogue features full-color reproductions of the artworks, a foreword by Corcoran Chief Curator Jacquelyn Days Serwer and an essay by the exhibition’s co-organizing curators, Jonathan P. Binstock and Stacey Schmidt.
48th Corcoran Biennial "Closer to Home"
mit Ethan Acres, Chakaia Booker, Matthew Buckingham, Colby Caldwell, George Condo, Adam Fuss, James Huckenpahler, John Lehr, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Richard Rezac, Dana Schutz, Jeff Spaulding, Kathryn Spence, Austin Thomas, Monique van Genderen