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Exhibition presents collection highlights within five approaches to subject matter long explored by artists
Laurie Simmons, Woman/Purple Dress/Kitchen, 1978-1987; color photograph; Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Jerome Foundation Purchase Fund for Emerging Artists, 1987.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN.- This exhibition, drawn from the Walker’s world-renowned collections, looks backward and forward at contemporary art in our time, showcasing both cornerstone works that have built the collection and works by a younger generation that point to new strengths and directions. The exhibition presents collection highlights within five approaches to subject matter long explored by artists: portraiture; the interior scene; landscape and the observed environment; still life and the everyday; and abstraction, areas that serve as thematic sections for unexpected groupings of works from the collection.

Featuring more than 100 works, the exhibition includes examples ranging from painting and sculpture to drawing, collage, video, photography, prints, and installations. Many of the works on view are longtime favorites for Walker visitors, presented alongside newer acquisitions, many on view for the first time in this context.

Five Ways In: Themes from the Collection will open February 14, 2019 and remain on view through September 19, 2021 in Galleries 4, 5 and 6.

The galleries will be organized according to five subject areas:

In the area of portraiture, the collection has great variety and depth. Artists throughout history, including a wide range of contemporary artists, have mined this genre as a rich arena within which to explore the self, identity, and the body. This section includes portraits—many of them self-portraits, and many made in unexpected ways—by a range of artists, including Fiona Banner, Frank Big Bear, Joseph Beuys, Rineke Dijkstra, Glenn LigonAlice Neel, Yoko Ono, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Andy Warhol, and Kehinde Wiley.

A perennial theme throughout the history of art has been the interior, both as a reflection of the artist’s creative environment, and as a site for observing life. This section of the exhibition presents many takes on the notion of the indoor room, from domestic settings to public spaces to artists’ studios. On view are works by artists including Edward Hopper, David Hockney, Sherrie Levine, Roy Lichtenstein, Martha Rosler, George Segal, Laurie Simmons, and Carrie Mae Weems.

This section of the exhibition explores work inspired by the natural world. None of the works on view, however, are “landscapes” in the traditional sense, but instead observe the outdoor environment through its overlooked details, unconventional scenes, or through abstraction. On view are works by artists including Vija Celmins, Alexa Horochowski, Ellsworth Kelly, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Kerry James Marshall, Joan Mitchell, Catherine Opie, and Julie Mehretu, among others.

Objects or scenes that are a part of everyday life are the subject of this section of the exhibition, which includes artists whose works celebrate the ordinary. Some of the artists on view, such as Lee Kit, Betye Saar, or Danh Vo, consider the convention of the still life as a way to explore common objects. Others, like Katharina Fritsch or Claes Oldenburg, change scale or materials to make the commonplace seem unfamiliar. Mundane activities as metaphors for broader narratives can be seen in works by David Hammons and John Baldessari; while works by artists including Thomas Hirschhorn and Ed Ruscha create provocative statements from everyday language.

Line, form, color, accumulation, and dissociation from the observed world are key to the works of artists who embrace abstraction. This section of the exhibition includes a range of abstract works by artists who explore gesture, hue, pattern, and pure forms in their work. On view are works by artists including Tomma Abts, Ta-coumba Aiken, Tauba Auerbach, Jennifer Bartlett, Beauford Delaney, Helen Frankenthaler, Caroline Kent, Dianna Molzan, Martin Puryear, and Jack Whitten.

The exhibition’s structure, which allows familiar points of entry for a wide range of artistic practices, invites for all visitors an introduction to and possibly a rediscovery of the Walker’s unique collection. Many of the works by an older generation have not been on view for decades, while works by more emerging artists show a continued persistence toward reinventing those genres we thought we knew.

Curator: Siri Engberg, Senior Curator, Visual Arts; with Jadine Collingwood, Curatorial Fellow, Visual Arts and Alexandra Nicome, Interpretation Fellow, Education and Public Programs.

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