Exhibition explores collecting and appropriation as a creative impulse in works by twelve artists remixing objects, images, and art history.

Press are welcome to preview the exhibition on Tuesday, Nov 15 between 10 AM and 1 PM. Please contact Lisa Colli, lcolli@icaboston.org, if you need additional information, images, or would like to visit the exhibition on November 15.

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) presents The Artist’s Museum, an exhibition focused on the creative impulse to collect and connect, featuring work by twelve American and European artists, including a major new commission for the exhibition by Anna Craycroft, as well as by Rosa Barba, Christian Marclay, Rosemarie Trockel, Carol Bove, Rachel Harrison, Louise Lawler, Mark Leckey, Pierre Leguillon, Goshka Macuga, Xaviera Simmons, and Sara VanDerBeek. Occupying the West Gallery, The Artist’s Museum showcases artworks that combine appropriated images, pre-existing artworks, and collected artifacts to create unexpected relationships across cultures and history in installations, photography, film, and video. The exhibition is organized by Dan Byers, Mannion Family Senior Curator, with Jeffrey De Blois, Curatorial Assistant, the exhibition is on view from November 16, 2016 through March 26, 2017.

The desire to collect objects and images of personal significance and to make connections between them is a near-universal experience. Since the early 20th century, artists’ collections of artworks and artifacts have served as inspiration for and material in their work, helping them create highly individualized models of their worlds. The Artist’s Museum includes artworks that gather a wide variety of appropriated materials and images ranging from magazines and animated characters to postcards and curios. These artists are also influenced by the advent of search engines, the internet’s digital image and data saturation, and the networked culture that defines our digital age.

Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director at the ICA/Boston, said, “Seeing the world through artists’ eyes and the objects the artists collect offers a window into our shared and different values and views of history, and our individual and collective selves. In The Artist’s Museum, Dan Byers, Mannion Family Senior Curator, has created a dramatic platform for all our visitors to experience the unique worlds and perspectives of twelve extraordinary artists.” 

Byers said, “An ‘artist’s museum’ may not be a museum at all, but rather a conceptual approach to the creative organization of artworks and other objects to make sense of the world. The exhibition is about artists re-telling forgotten, hidden, or overlooked histories through cultural artifacts and images. Further, it reveals the secret lives of artworks and the personal relationships we all have with images and art. Each installation charts recurring forms and themes across cultures and history, subjecting artworks, images, and objects to new systems of relation and connectivity. They employ the language of museum display to engage many subjects, from dance, music, and design to gender, sexuality, and technology.”
An exhibition highlight is a major new ICA/Boston commission by Craycroft, The Earth is a Magnet (2016), the artist’s most ambitious work to date. Made up of more than 150 objects covering two small galleries, the work brings together the photography, biography, and inventions of Berenice Abbott—celebrated for both her street photography and her rigorously scientific images made at MIT—with video, sculpture, and photography by a peer group of younger artists. They include Fia Backström, Katherine Hubbard, Matt Keegan, Jill Magid, MPA, Lucy Raven, Mika Rottenberg, A. L. Steiner, and Erika Vogt. Other highlights include:

  • Shown for the first time in the U.S., Barba’s lush 35mm film The Hidden Conference: About the Discontinuous History of Things We See and Don’t See (2010), imagining a narrative in which the Neue Nationalgalerie’s paintings and sculptures in storage are protagonists;
  • Marclay’s sixteen-monitor video installation Shake Rattle and Roll (fluxmix) (2005), featuring the artist literally playing the Walker Art Center’s Fluxus collection;
  • Bove’s La Traversée Difficile (2008), marshalling René Magritte and Gerald Heard as inspirations for a mini-encyclopedic museum;
  • Harrison’s photographic series Voyage of the Beagle (2007), surveying human and animal forms across sculptural manifestations ranging from mannequins and signs to public art and taxidermy;
  • Leckey’s uncanny moving-image work Cinema in the Round (2008), develops unexpected connections between artworks, media technology, and popular culture, both real and virtual;
  • Shown in the U.S. for the first time, Leguillon’s The Great Escape (2012), presenting a collection of artworks and photographs of dancers with a light-show and soundtrack by Amy Winehouse; and
  • Trockel’s Living Means Not Good Enough (2002), a hybrid photograph-sculpture that displays an artist’s influences and anxieties, also being shown for the first time in the U.S.

The presentation of The Artist’s Museum will be enriched by gallery talks and artist talks (details to be announced soon).


The Artist’s Museum is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with texts by Dan Byers, Mannion Family Senior Curator, ICA/Boston; Claire Bishop, art historian, critic, author, and Professor in the Art History Department at CUNY Graduate Center, New York; Lynne Cooke, Senior Curator, Special Projects in Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; and Ingrid Schaffner, Curator of the 2018 Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art. Designed by Chad Kloepfer, The Artist’s Museum catalogue also includes a historical compendium of influential 20th-century artworks and exhibitions that provide important precedent to the works in this exhibition. Available for $49.95 at the ICA Store or online at icastore.org.

Major support is provided by Barbara Horwich Lloyd, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Additional support is generously provided by Steve Corkin and Dan Maddalena, Tristin and Martin Mannion, Ellen Poss, Charlotte and Herbert S. Wagner III, Anonymous, FACE Foundation/ Etant Donnés Contemporary Art, and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.

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