“Materiality and Process” at The Parrish Art Museum

The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill.
The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill.

The Parrish Art Museum will display “Materiality and Process,” a new installation of the permanent collection, that will stay on view until November 2017. This is the fifth annual project of this nature and features recent acquisitions, many which introduce new artists to the museum collection.

The 90 paintings, sculptures, mixed-media, and works on paper are presented in nine thematic narratives that clarify the many ways in which modern and contemporary artists have embraced both creative processes and materials beyond traditional media such as paint-on-canvas or charcoal and pencil on paper—in the service of their art.

“As an overarching theme, the idea of ‘Materiality and Process’ gives the Parrish a great opportunity to mine the collection for excellent examples of the many ways in which artists have embraced a wide range of approaches to art making,” Parrish Art Museum Director, Terrie Sultan said.

“Materiality and Process” features artists including Joe Brainard, Dan Colen, Kim MacConnel, Graham Nickson and Josh Tonsfeldt. New works such as “Portrait of Frank O’Hara” by Alex Katz, Ray Johnson’s “Untitled,” and drawings by Billy Sullivan —“Max,” “10/22/91 3:15PM” and “3:50PM” — expand the museum’s holdings of key artists. “Materiality and Process” also includes paintings on view for the first time by Grace Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, Conrad Marca-Relli and Syd Solomon.

The overall theme of the exhibition is introduced in “Truth to Materials” with works that reveal the physical process of art making and employ use of tactile materials, represented in Alfonso Ossorio’s “Unsuccessful Tow,” fabricated with horns, eyes, bones and shells, and Louise Nevelson’s “Untitled,” where intricately cut pieces and found objects transform the viewer’s perception of what makes art.

In “Collective Conversation,” five works spanning 50 years provide an exploration of materials as well as architecture, geometry, solid form and fleeting gesture. Dan Flavin’s work is composed almost entirely of light, Keith Sonnier’s juxtaposes solid shapes and fragile neon, Dorothea Rockburne’s wall installation combines folded canvas and drawing, Mel Kendrick’s experiments with structure and texture through the medium of pulp paper, and Costantino Nivola’s carves an image in wet sand and sets it with poured plaster.

“Material Witness” speaks to the sheer physical presence of paint itself, and how the artist’s application of it and use of color creates radiant effects. In “Blinds and Shades,” Josh Dayton extends the painted surface by attaching sculptural forms to the canvas, while Herman Cherry and John Opper use color to create paintings that seem to emit energy. Willem de Kooning’s ribbon-like strokes cascade in swathes of vibrant color, and “attest to the primacy of the material substance in the evolution of painting.” Six of the eight paintings in this exhibition are on view for the first time at the Water Mill location.

“American Views,” spanning nearly 100-years, reveals the process of artists who challenged the conventions of the Hudson River School by reimagining the landscape. Samuel Colman and George Henry Smillie chose close-up studies of nature, Martin Johnson Heade focused on the effects of light on water, John Henry Twachtman and Childe Hassam applied the French Impressionists’ bright palette and brushwork to American subjects while April Gornik offers an intuitive experience of the landscape with her large scale paintings.

Fairfield Porter, one of the great American modernist painters, has a breadth of his works in the permanent collection. “Fairfield Porter: Friends and Family” offers a fresh look at his grasp of the very materiality of paint in a series of portraits that range from straight depictions of people to abstract pictorial relationships between color and form.

The theme of process is explored in its most elemental and fundamental stages in “Drawn in Black and White,” with drawings that rely on limited color options by Norman Bluhm, Ms. Gornik, Robert Motherwell, Billy Sullivan, Esteban Vicente and others.

Two exhibitions consider the process of artistic collaboration from the intimacy between subject and photographer conveyed in “Picturing Artists,” to art making inspired by writers and the written word in “Poets and Painters.” Dan Colen was guided by the words of filmmaker Harmony Korine. Frank O’Hara and Bill Berkson sent Mike Goldberg snippets of their writings on sheets of drawing paper and inspired his mixed media collage.

A special presentation on view within “Materiality and Process” is Joe Zucker’s series of five etchings on rice paper, based on consideration of the spider and created in preparation for his 1992 print project with Riverhouse Editions in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

The Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information, please call (631) 283-2118 or visit parrishart.org.