PHILADELPHIA (February 5, 2019) -- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is pleased to announce the opening of Intimate Immensity, an exhibition featuring work by contemporary sculptors with selections from PAFA's Brodsky Center archive and rarely-shown works from the Museum's permanent collection.
Intimate Immensity will be on view at PAFA in the School of Fine Arts Gallery, Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building on North Broad Street, from February 15–April 7, 2019, with an opening reception and panel discussion on February 15, from 5–7 pm.
Curated by PAFA faculty member Alexis Granwell, adjunct professor of Sculpture in the BFA and MFA programs, the exhibition features work by artists El Anatsui, Lynda Benglis, Chakaia Booker, Louise Bourgeois, Judy Chicago, Alexis Granwell, Fabienne Lasserre, Brie Ruais, Michelle Segre, Joan Snyder, and Sun You.
The works in the exhibition deal with touch, materiality, the sensual, and the subversive. Whether an object or image, the works engage with the abstract vocabulary of the psyche, the body, memory, mythology, and the decorative.
"For this exhibition, I was interested in curating a show about sculptors that explore materials to find meaning," Granwell said. "It was an honor to study the works from the Brodsky Center and PAFA's museum and pair these works with some of my favorite artists making objects right now."
The Brodsky Center, a collaborative paper and printmaking center and artist-in-residence program, moved to PAFA from Rutgers University last July. The Center will manage the papermaking studio to create new artworks with invited artists and enable PAFA students to learn about and work with hand papermaking methods.
The four artists from the Brodsky Center highlight the visceral elements of handmade paper: El Anatsui's semi-transparent Kozo work echoes language, pattern, and textile with its seams, folds, and wrinkles that feel almost skin-like; Lynda Benglis's wrought, bold sculptures layer paint and gold-leaf on chicken wire wrapped in Abaca, capturing the shifting topography of a figure or landscape in motion; Joan Snyder's muscular and brightly-colored paperwork seamlessly layers pulp and petals with her complex and expressive painting vocabulary; and Chakaia Booker's multi-layered paper sculpture explodes from the wall, creating a feeling of entropy, with a deconstructed form based on shapes from a ripped tire.
With works from PAFA's Linda Lee Alter Collection of Art by Women, Judy Chicago and Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010), two prominent sculptors and iconic feminist artists, directly point to the lineage of the exhibition, celebrating artists that collaborate with their materials in inventive abstractions. Chicago's Untitled [(test plate) from the Dinner Party] (1976) contributed to The Dinner Party (1974–79), an installation honoring the creativity and power of 1,038 women. Bourgeois's The Angry Cat (1999), is one of her well known prints. For Bourgeois, the etching process and the physicality of its materials shared an innate relationship to her sculpture.
Brie Ruais' contemporary work explores the force of the body in her large, painterly, ceramic sculptures where clay is torn, spread, and pressed. The amorphous, freestanding, and hanging works by Fabienne Lasserre create a sci-fi and fantastical feel, acting as windows and voids with their fragile, limb-like frames. Alexis Granwell's biomorphic sculptures incorporate handmade paper, wood, and concrete, referencing ruination of built structures and the body, suggesting an unearthing of the past and geological time. Michelle Segre's playful assemblages weave together various materials, including yarn, thread, fan parts, and a saw, building immediacy and a sense of transformation as the total of these items becomes more than its parts. Sun You's delicate small-scale sculptures juxtapose fashion accessories, industrial materials, and knick-knacks, suggesting vulnerability and slow unraveling.
Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley Hendricks,Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.