How artists have used ornamentation to transform craft and design, feminism, queerness and gender, beauty and taste, camouflage and masquerade, and multiculturalism and globalism.

Less Is a Bore: Maximalist Art & Design brings together works in painting, sculpture, ceramic, dance, furniture design, and more that privilege decoration, pattern, and maximalism.

Borrowing its attitude from architect Robert Venturi’s witty retort to Mies van der Rohe’s modernist edict “less is more,” Less Is a Bore shows how artists, including those affiliated with the Pattern & Decoration movement of the 1970s, have sought to rattle the dominance of modernism and minimalism. Encouraged by the pluralism permeating many cultural spheres at the time, these artists accommodated new ideas, modes, and materials, challenging entrenched categories that marginalized non-Western art, fashion, interior design, and applied art.

The exhibition considers how artists have used ornamentation, pattern painting, and other decorative modes to critique, subvert, and transform accepted histories related to craft and design, feminism, queerness and gender, beauty and taste, camouflage and masquerade, and multiculturalism and globalism. More recent artworks in the exhibition chart both the legacy and transformation of these trajectories.

Spanning generations, geographies, and traditions, Less Is a Bore includes works ranging from experiments in patterning by Sanford Biggers, Jasper Johns, and Miriam Schapiro to the transgressive sculpture and furniture of Lucas Samaras and Ettore Sottsass, to the installations of Polly Apfelbaum, Nathalie du Pasquier, and Virgil Marti.  

Full artist list

Ron Amstutz (b. 1968, Youngstown, OH)
Polly Apfelbaum (b. 1955, Abington Township, PA)
Jennifer Bartlett (b. 1941, Long Beach, CA)
Sanford Biggers (b. 1970, Los Angeles)
Tord Boontje (b. 1968, Enschende, The Netherlands)
Leigh Bowery (b. 1961, Sunshine, Australia; d. 1995, London) and Fergus Greer (b. England)
Roger Brown (b. 1941, Hamilton, AL; d. 1997, Atlanta)
Taylor Davis (b. 1959, Palm Springs, CA)
Nathalie Du Pasquier (b. 1957, Bordeaux, France)
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (b. 1922, Qazvin, Iran; d. 2019, Tehran, Iran) 
Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972, Colorado Springs, CO)
Nancy Graves (b. 1939, Pittsfield, MA; d. 1995, New York)
Valerie Jaudon (b. 1945, Greenville, MS)
Jasper Johns (b. 1930, Augusta, GA)
Joyce Kozloff (b. 1942, Somerville, NJ)
Robert Kushner (b. 1949, Pasadena, CA)
Ellen Lesperance (b. 1971, Minneapolis)
Sol LeWitt (b. 1928, Hartford, CT; d. 2007, New York)
Liza Lou (b. 1969, New York)
Babette Mangolte (b. 1941, Montmorot, France) and Lucinda Childs (b. 1940, New York)
Virgil Marti (b. 1962, St. Louis)
Dianna Molzan (b. 1972, Tacoma, WA)
Joel Otterson (b. 1959, Los Angeles)
Laura Owens (b. 1970, Euclid, OH)
Howardena Pindell (b. 1943, Philadelphia)
Lari Pittman (b. 1952, Los Angeles)
Ruth Root (b. 1967, Chicago)
Lucas Samaras (b. 1936, Kastoria, Greece)
Zoe Pettijohn Schade (b. 1973, Boston)
Miriam Schapiro (b. 1923, Toronto; d. 2015, Hampton Bays, NY)
Ettore Sottsass (b. 1917, Innsbruck, Austria; d. 2007, Milan)
Frank Stella (b. 1936, Malden, MA)
Stephanie Syjuco (b. 1974, Manila, Philippines)
Philip Taaffe (b. 1955, Elizabeth, NJ)
Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates (founded 1960 as Venturi & Associates, Philadelphia)
Marcel Wanders (b. 1963, Boxtel, The Netherlands)
Pae White (b. 1963, Pasadena, CA)
Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977, Los Angeles)
Franklin Williams (b. 1940, Ogden, UT)
Betty Woodman (b. 1930, Norwalk, CT; d. 2018, New York)
Christopher Wool (b. 1955, Chicago)
Haegue Yang (b. 1971, Seoul)
Ray Yoshida (b. 1930, Kapaa, Hawaii, HI; d. 2009, Kauai, HI)
Robert Zakanitch (b. 1935, Elizabeth, NJ)

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication with essays by Elissa Auther, Amy Goldin, and Jenelle Porter.

Please note: One work in this exhibition contains a video with rapidly changing, high-contrast imagery that creates a flashing effect.