Of Many Ancestors
May 18, 2019 - December 28, 2019
Taking its title from a previously unexhibited acrylic collage by Karl Zerbe from 1961, Of Many Ancestors is a celebration of the cultural richness of works present in MOCA Jacksonville's Permanent Collection. This exhibition brings together work by artists from several cultural backgrounds and nationalities, all of whom lived and worked in the United States, and many of whom immigrated here and became citizens. This exhibition reminds viewers that art and ideas are not divided by human made borders and processes, but rather are fluid, migratory, and ever enriching.
Bauhaus artist and teacher Josef Albers was instrumental in bringing ideas of European Modernism to America. His 1963 book Interaction of Color provided one of the most comprehensive analysis of the function and perception of color to date. Albers is renowned for his compositions that explore the relationships of color through a single, simple form, usually the square. His series Homage to the Square, produced from 1949 until his death, used a single geometric shape to systematically explore the vast range of visual effects that could be achieved through color and spatial relationships alone.
Josef Albers in his studio, Orange, Connecticut, 1968-1969. Silver gelatin print. Courtesy the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. Photograph by Sedat Pakay.
After an early interest in biomorphic surrealism and exposure to Piet Mondrian, Ilya Bolotowsky developed his own style from the true Neo-plasticism discipline. He achieved balance in his paintings by using right angles, eliminating the diagonal, and creating a sense of order. Often experimenting with shaped canvases, Bolotowsky utilized diamond-shapes, ovals, tondos (circles), ellipses, and rectangles. The colorful, irregularly shaped paintings highlight the high degree of control Bolotowsky had in his later work and reflect his unceasing interest in Modernist geometry.
Japanese artist Kota Ezawa was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and later moved to the United States, where he received a BA from the San Francisco Art Institute and later an MA from Stanford University. Ezawa creates highly stylized animated videos, collages, prints, and slide projections that address the appropriation of current events and the oversaturation of related images in popular culture. Perhaps best known for his computer animated films, Ezawa's practice is process-oriented and labor-intensive often involving the production of hundreds of drawings for one piece.
Image courtesy of Kota Ezawa.
Painter and printmaker, Philip Guston is best known for his cartoonish work dating from the 1960s. Returning to the figure during the height of the Abstract Expressionist movement (1943-1965), Guston painted mundane objects such as light bulbs, books, shoes, and bricks. Typically, he rendered his subjects in a limited palette featuring shades of red, pink, and white. A leading figure in the Neo-Expressionist movement where artists emphasized human psychology, Guston was a self-taught artist who worked alongside Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Although not immediately well received, Guston's work is now exhibited in major museums worldwide.
Photo: F. K. Lloyd
© The Estate of Philip Guston, courtesy Hauser & Wirth
Louise Nevelson (1899-1988) is remembered as one of the most significant artists of the twentieth-century; her most iconic pieces include abstract, assemblaged sculptures made from discarded wood, which she predominantly painted black and sometimes white or gold. Nevelson also experimented with other materials and motifs, including works on paper, printmaking, and jewelry that range from abstracted geometric shapes to portraiture and still life. Typically rendered with minimal color or a muted color palette, Nevelson's works, however, challenged the conventions of the field of Abstract Expressionism, which traditionally favored painting and bright color. Nevelson's monumental sculptures and installations not only influenced women sculptors of the 1960s and 1970s, but continue to play an integral role in the field of Feminist art history.
Louise Nevelson. Not Dated. Photograph courtesy of Pace Gallery. Artwork © 2018 Estate of Louise Nevelson / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
A self-professed “pop-culture junkie,” Lyle Owerko's (Canadian, b. 1968) visual images have found an indelible place in the lexicon of pop culture and journalism. The photographer and filmmaker is best known for his perception and knowledge of urban movements, such as The Boombox Project that celebrates the quintessential big city accessory perched on shoulders or ornamenting front stoops, the icon of the punk, new wave, and hip-hop movements from the 1970s to the 1980s.
Image courtesy of the artist and Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta.
Cuban-American artist Yolanda Sanchez is most well known for her abstract, expressionistic and non-figurative paintings and prints. Often citing nature as a significant source of inspiration, Sanchez also draws on her personal experiences and background, including her Cuban heritage and the colors and forms found in South Florida's landscapes and seascapes. A woman of many talents, Sanchez is also a Fulbright scholar who holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. After teaching psychology for many years, she received a degree in Fine Arts from Florida International University in 1991 followed by an M.F.A. in Painting from Yale University in 1994. Sanchez continues to create lyrically abstract work while serving as the Director for the Art Program at the Miami International Airport.
Image courtesy of the artist
Working alongside painters Jackson Pollock and Ad Reinhardt, Theodoros Stamos contributed significantly to the development of Abstract Expressionism. Stamos often employed organic shapes and allusions to exotic landscapes, and as an American-Greek artist and avid traveler, Stamos referenced Greek culture as well as East Asian aesthetics in some of his work. Stamos exhibited regularly in New York during the mid to late twentieth-century and was a part of the instrumental exhibition, The New American Painting, which introduced Abstract Expressionism to European audiences in 1958-59.