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The Parrish Art Museum opens the first major survey of Mel Kendrick
Mel Kendrick, Nemo, 1983. Wood, plaster, ink. 66 x 216 x 140 in. Func Art, Kinderhook, NY.



WATER MILL, NY.- The Parrish Art Museum presents Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things—the first major survey of Kendrick’s (American, b. 1949) work highlighting his four-decade career. On view November 6, 2022 through February 19, 2023, the exhibition explores how Kendrick, one of America’s renowned contemporary sculptors, pushes the limits of his materials—wood, rubber, and concrete—to create sculpture that lays bare the process by which it was made, manipulating the language of abstraction with wit and rigor. Through his creative inquiry, Kendrick invites viewers to think about the relationships between representation and abstraction, sculpture and the body, organic and synthetic, and natural and made by hand.

Focusing on the development of specific bodies of work, the comprehensive, multi-gallery exhibition provides insight into Kendrick’s unique approach to artmaking—one that is fueled by a tireless inquiry into the seemingly limitless possibility of sculpture. Seeing Things in Things features more than 50 major works including new sculptures and wall pieces, a grouping of small 3-dimensional “sketches,” works on paper, and photographs from the early 1980s to the present.

The architecture of the Parrish galleries, with classically proportioned spaces flooded with natural light, is an inspiration for the artist. “This exhibition gives me the opportunity to imagine new relationships between my work and the spaces in which they are contained,” said Kendrick. “The Parrish is an iconic building with galleries that are especially welcoming to sculpture and that easily lend themselves to juxtapositions of scale—I find that exciting.”

Seeing Things in Things unfolds in five galleries, each carefully imagined to present works in relation to one another thematically, highlighting selections from the artist’s fundamental series including monumental work like Sculpture No. 4 (1991) from the series Black Oil Sculptures, medium-sized predominantly wood sculpture on metal bases dating from the 1980s, wood sculptures Kendrick refers to as “drawings” from 2000; and small-scale untitled mahogany and Japan color red works. Many of Kendrick’s large-scale sculptures will be installed in the Harriet and Esteban Vicente Gallery, which spans the width of the Museum. In the center of the space, protruding into the east/west axis of the Museum, is Nemo (1983), an 18-foot-long sculpture never before shown in New York.

“Mel Kendrick has reinvented, renewed, and rethought what sculpture can be many times over. His relentless quest into physicality and three-dimensionality, constantly orchestrating and rearranging, is not dissimilar to that of a choreographer--the spectator will never cease to be mesmerized and drawn into the performance,’” said Corinne Erni, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of ArtsReach and Special Projects. “The Parrish is delighted and honored to present this astonishing body of work and to celebrate his impressive career.”

Throughout his practice, the artist has continued to explore the inherent possibilities of materials in myriad ways. While retaining original sources, albeit drastically transformed, Kendrick’s works reveal decisions and actions that led to their self-contained and self-referential construction. While their forms change, the subject matter always remains the same—that of material and making and the visual ironies revealed in the interaction of the two. Works like Black Trunk (1995) and Raised Stump (1991-2018) reveal his process of deconstruction and reconstruction of materials. In Big Daddy Fun/Second Version (1995), two sculptures considered a single work, the artist explores the transformation that occurs when a specific form is recreated in contrasting materials.

A richly illustrated 192-page book, co-published with and distributed by Rizzoli Electa, accompanies the exhibition. The comprehensive publication fully explores the depth and breadth of Kendrick’s long career, featuring an essay by independent scholar Nancy Princenthal providing an overview of Kendrick’s work and its evolution. A series of focused writings by other scholars address various facets of Kendrick’s work: Addison Gallery Director Allison Kemmerer focuses on the artist’s little-known photographs; Adam Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, contributes an essay on the relationship between Kendrick’s prints and sculpture; Terrie Sultan, former director of the Parrish Art Museum and independent curator, offers an in-depth analysis of one of the artist’s watershed black oil sculptures; and Carroll Dunham, artist, longtime colleague, and friend of the artist, provides an interview with Kendrick.

Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things was organized by the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. The presentation at the Parrish Art Museum is organized by Corinne Erni, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of ArtsReach and Special Projects, with additional support from Kaitlin Halloran, Curatorial Assistant and Publications Coordinator and Brianna L. Hernández, Curatorial Fellow.










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