A new exhibition celebrating the abstraction of contemporary painting opens May 6 at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Sheldon Museum of Art.
The exhibit, “It was Never Linear: Recent Painting,” features selected works by 12 contemporary artists whose production demonstrates a primacy of the act of painting — gestural mark making and attention to surface material — over any true representation of form or figure. It is open through July 31.
The exhibition was organized collaboratively by Wally Mason, Sheldon’s director and chief curator, and Aaron Holz, associate professor of art. Attentive to the fact that many museum visitors and students have come to understand art history through a narrowly focused lens, the co-curators have assembled an exhibition that fosters reconsideration of the art historical canon by looking inclusively at artists who represent varied production.
“I want visitors to see the complexity and richness of paint as a language while supporting a new, more complicated narrative about painting’s current state and recent past,” Holz said.
The artists featured in the exhibition are Robert Bordo, JoAnne Carson, Dawn Clements, Lois Dodd, Michelle Grabner, Josephine Halvorson, Loren Munk, Joyce Pensato, Colin Prahl, Peter Saul, Barbara Takenaga, and Stanley Whitney.
“Although much of the work assembled was selected to resonate, there was a deliberate choice to have enough dissonance in the variety of works and artists selected that viewers will be challenged to make connections between artists and, ideally, argue for or against particular works,” Holz said.
According to Mason, Holz has been an ideal co-curator for an exhibition concurrent with a re-emergence of painting.
“In addition to being an accomplished artist of international recognition, Aaron is always thinking of his students and encouraging their engagement with contemporary art,” Mason said.
“It Was Never Linear” continues a Sheldon tradition dating back to the 1880s of mounting regular survey exhibitions of recent contemporary art from around the country.
“Aaron knows our collection well and uses the museum as a classroom,” Mason said. “He has a vested interest in the impact of today’s exhibitions and acquisitions on the education of future generations.”
Beginning May 20, a selection of objects acquired over the years from these exhibitions will be on view in “Building a Legacy Collection: A Survey of Invitational Acquisitions.”
For more information on Sheldon exhibitions, click here.