Intimate Immensity: The Susan and Larry Marx Collection

February 5, 2012 - May 6, 2012


Major gifts by dedicated patrons have often been the building blocks of museum collections. The Hammer Museum is proud to be the recipient of a substantial promised gift from our longtime supporters Susan and Larry Marx. This is the first public presentation of a selection from the extraordinary gift that the Marxes have pledged to the Hammer. The Marx Collection comprises more than 150 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper made by 109 different artists. This postwar collection includes many exemplary works by seminal abstract expressionist and conceptual artists, alongside exciting works by newer artists, and will complement the Hammer Contemporary Collection.


By Douglas Fogle

In point of fact, daydreaming, from the very first second, is an entirely constituted state. We do not see it start, and yet it always starts the same way, that is, it flees the object nearby and right away it is far off, elsewhere, in the space of elsewhere.
—Gaston Bachelard

When we look at a picture (a painting, a drawing, a photograph), what do we see? A collection of lines, shapes, or planes of color that in some cases resolve into recognizable figures and in others fall apart into a cascade of abstract forms. The history of modern art is littered with the remains of the seemingly unending battle between figuration and abstraction. This contest has played itself out as an art historical pendulum that has swung back and forth from one pole to the other—from the presumed factuality of photographs to the decidedly interpretive expressions of abstract paintings—with factions formed, battles waged, and lines drawn in the sand. In some ways, this debate has been active since the Renaissance, when writers such as Leon Battista Alberti suggested that painting could be seen as a window on the world. While the subsequent centuries have seen the increasing collapse of verisimilitude in a tumultuous dance between figuration and abstraction, the real question at the core of these debates has always been exactly what world it was that lay just beyond the frame of that window. More


The exhibition is curated by Douglas Fogle, chief curator and deputy director of exhibitions and public programs at the Hammer.


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