Dreams for the Next Century: A View of the Collection
With site-specific installation by Barbara Kruger
Dreams for the Next Century: A View of the Collection included thirty-two works by artists prominent on Eastern Long Island over the last fifty years. While emphasizing the importance of Willem de Kooning and Roy Lichtenstein, the exhibition charted the influence of the Abstract Expressionists and the subsequent reaction against them by the Pop artists. While these two styles are often perceived as antithetical to each other, the exhibition made clear that almost as many alliances exist as do oppositions. To celebrate the Museum's Centennial, this exhibition had also included a site-specific installation by the artist Barbara Kruger on the exterior facade of the Museum.
Organized by Klaus Kertess, guest curator and writer, and Joseph Ruzicka, The Parrish Art Museum's Robert Lehman Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Dreams for the Next Century: A View of the Collection both honored the astounding artistic vitality of the region and presented The Parrish's strongest hopes for additions to its permanent collection. It was indicative of the Museum's increased interest in making available to the public the achievements of the area's artists. The Museum has made acquiring art a singular priority so that the story of art of the region can be told here, in the Museum's galleries, adding depth and breadth to the work already in the collection. This marked an important stage in the maturity of the institution, for only by displaying and interpreting its permanent collection can an institution truly define itself.
On the Abstract Expressionist side, the works of de Kooning, Elaine de Kooning, Franz Kline and Esteban Vicente were included, as well as the work of artists of succeeding generations such as Lynda Benglis, John Chamberlain, Joan Mitchell and Joan Snyder, all of whom have been influenced by Abstract Expressionism's gestural painterliness. On the Pop side, works by Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist and Andy Warhol were exhibited together with younger artists who have incorporated the photo-reproductive, mass media, "low" art techniques exploited by Pop artists. This group includes Chuck Close, Audrey Flack, Ray Johnson, David Salle and Joe Zucker.
Roy Lichtenstein was represented by two paintings that at once mock and celebrate de Kooning's painting, just as Warhol's "Rorschach" painting mocks and celebrates the incorporation of chance in Abstract Expressionist painting. Larry Rivers's Pop ironies are executed with painterly bravado. Lynda Benglis's gestural pours of paint or Styrofoam take many cues from Jackson Pollock and Helen Frankenthaler, but also bristle with a raucous palette calling to the mass media cartoons often found in Pop's repertoire. The conflation of the handmade and the mechanically reproducible so important to Lichtenstein subsequently played a major role in Close's painting; but, at the same time, Close sees de Kooning as a major forebear.
Dreams for the Next Century: A View of the Collection was made possible through generous support from Del Laboratories, Sotheby's, Mr. Montague H. Hackett Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Norman L. Peck, Helene and Whitney Stevens, and the Edward John Noble Foundation, Inc.
The Parrish Art Museum, housed in an Italianate structure built in 1898, is dedicated to the collection, preservation, interpretation, and dissemination of American art and art of the region. The collection is internationally recognized for its holdings of William Merritt Chase and Fairfield Porter. The Museum presents a wide range of changing exhibitions and innovative educational programs, serving as a vital cultural resource for the East End of Long Island and neighboring communities.