Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology
February 9, 2014 - May 18, 2014
- Barbara Kruger Untitled (Hello/Goodbye) 2013 Digital print on vinyl. Courtesy of the artist.
- David Wojnarowicz The Death of American Spirituality 1987 Mixed media on plywood. 81 x 88 in. (205.7 x 223.5 cm). Collection of John Carlin and Renee Dossick, Edgewater, NJ.
- Adrian Piper Vanilla Nightmares #14 1986 Charcoal drawing on New York Times page from Wednesday, July 23, 1986. 14 1/8 x 23 1/2 in. (35.9 x 59.7 cm). Collection of Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation, Berlin. © APRA Foundation Berlin.
- Andrea Fraser Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk 1989 Single-channel video (Betacam SP NTSC), color, sound. 30:00 min. Courtesy of the artist. Photo Credit: Kelly & Massa Photography.
- Cady Noland Frame Device 1989 Pipes, stanchions, 12 walkers. 132 x 132 x 54 in. (335.3 x 335.3 x 137.2 cm). Gaby and Wilhelm Schürmann, Herzogenrath, Germany; courtesy David Zwirner, New York. Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner Gallery, New York.
- Felix Gonzalez-Torres “Untitled” (USA Today) 1990 Candies individually wrapped in red, silver, and blue cellophane, endless supply. Overall dimensions vary with installation. Ideal weight: 300 lbs. © The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation. Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.
- Dara Birnbaum PM Magazine 1982 Single-channel video, color, stereo sound; bromide enlargement with speed-rail suspension system, painted wall. 71 x 95 x 20 1/8 in. (180.3 x 241.3 x 51.1 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, restricted gift of Joseph and Jory Shapiro, Mr. and Mrs. E. A. Bergman, and Mrs. Robert B. Mayer (1984.7). Photo by Nathan Keay, © Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
- Fred Wilson Love and Loss in the Milky Way 2005 Table with 47 milk-glass elements, plaster bust, plaster head, standing woman, ceramic cookie jar. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery, New York. Photo by Kerry Ryan McFate © Fred Wilson, courtesy Pace Gallery.
- Haim Steinbach Backyard Story 1997 Painted steel and particleboard shelving unit, cotton clothesline, wood clothespins, cotton clothing and underwear, painted metal grills, plastic jack‑o’‑lanterns, wood logs. 112 x 297 x 36 in. (284.5 x 754.4 x 91.4 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York. Image Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.
Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology is the first large-scale exhibition to focus on the intersection of two vitally important genres of contemporary art: appropriation (taking and recasting existing images, forms, and styles from mass-media and fine art sources) and institutional critique (scrutinizing and confronting the structures and practices of our social, cultural, and political institutions). The exhibition brings together works by thirty-six American artists who came to prominence between the late 1970s and the early 1990s.
The majority of the works on view are from the 1980s and 1990s, a groundbreaking period that was shaped by the feminist and civil rights movements of the previous decades. Conscious of the profound impact on society of mass media such as television, newspapers, and film, artists examined critical questions of identity and representation via politically and socially engaged practices. This era witnessed a number of significant events that reverberated in the art world: the AIDS crisis; Ronald Reagan’s “trickle-down” economics and the subsequent recession; the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War; among others.
Expanding on the work of earlier conceptual artists, who were committed to exploring the very definition of art, the artists featured in Take It or Leave It believe that art cannot be fully understood or experienced without acknowledging the contexts in which it is produced, viewed, and distributed. They point to the links between art institutions and the other organizations that make up our society, asserting that to separate art from aspects of our daily experience—whether education or medicine, marriage or war, parenting or advertising—is to reinscribe arbitrary and false divisions between art and society, between our aesthetic lives and our everyday lives.
Although Take It or Leave It is a historical show focusing on a period in the recent past, it also includes recent work, arguing for the continued relevance of these artists’ practices and also revealing their sustained commitment to both historically recognizable and emerging strategies of appropriation and institutional critique. The exhibition highlights dynamic practices in notably diverse mediums, including painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video, text, and performance. The works are by turns subtle and aggressive, poetic and didactic, emotional and intellectual. They are as challenging as they are rewarding, as radical as they are rational. Take It or Leave It seeks to revive and participate in the meaningful debates that the artists have fostered over time and to instill a desire for critique, in its many forms, to remain a cornerstone of American art.
Mark Dion & Jason Simon
Take It or Leave It is organized by the Hammer Museum and co-curated by Anne Ellegood, senior curator at the Hammer Museum, and Johanna Burton, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement at the New Museum.
Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology is made possible by a major grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Generous support is also provided by The Audrey and Sydney Irmas Charitable Foundation, Karyn Kohl, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Support for the Barbara Kruger installation is provided by The Broad Art Foundation.