Press release: Museum will present The Artist and the Modern Studio

By | July 16, 2015
Ron Adams, American, born 1934; Blackburn, 2002; color lithograph; 25 x 34 3/4 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Friends of African American Art and The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund 20:2012 © Ron Adams

Ron Adams, American, born 1934; Blackburn, 2002; color lithograph; 25 x 34 3/4 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Friends of African American Art and The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund 20:2012 © Ron Adams

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ST. LOUIS, July 16, 2015 — The Saint Louis Art Museum presents The Artist and the Modern Studio, a free exhibition examining how artists turned to their own studio spaces as a subject for exploration. The exhibition features more than 30 American and European artists, with a concentration of works drawn from the Museum’s collection and produced between 1960 and 1990.

The Artist and the Modern Studio will be on view in galleries 234 and 235 from July 31 through Jan. 3, 2016.

The artists presented in this exhibition create works that reflect the remarkably diverse approaches to representing the studio environment and the activities that take place there. The studio in the 20th and 21st centuries ranges from domestic interiors and white-walled sanctums where an artist retreats in solitude, to repurposed industrial spaces that serve as performance spaces. The subject of the studio is conceived not just as a representation of physical space but also of a metaphorical one for reflecting on identity, expressing notions of the artist as hero, jester, craftsman and teacher.

The Artist and the Modern Studio will feature a mix of media including prints, drawings, and photographs, as well as paintings and three-dimensional objects. From explorations on the theme of the artist and model by Pablo Picasso to conceptual performances by Kiki Smith, the works in this show evoke a range of associations about artistic activity—romantic, spiritual, practical, playful and confrontational.

A color lithograph by Ron Adams fits into a long tradition of depicting the interior of printer’s workshops while paying homage to the legendary postwar printmaker Robert Blackburn. He portrays Blackburn as a muscular figure commanding a large printing press as he pulls a print off of a lithographic stone. Adams constructs a visual synthesis between the artist’s likeness, his work, and the studio in which he finds inspiration. Similarly, David Hockney offers an affectionate tribute to the interior of his London Pembroke studio. His colorful depiction of its floors, furniture, and easel ripples with an energy evoking artistic stimulation and creation.

While Gerhard Richter turns to photography in order to stage a brooding examination of his studio space, Laurie Simmons probes the relationship between an artist and her tools using elements of performance. In his serial work Six Photographs May 2, 1989–May 7, 1989, Richter superimposes multiple images of himself to suggest the passing of time in his empty warehouse studio. In some photos, the ghostly figure of the artist can be seen crouching and pacing, calling to mind the specter of recent personal and national traumas. Simmons contemplates the psychological power of photography in her series Walking Objects by animating a large-format camera. The oversized character of the camera on legs becomes part of a fictional world, where tools come to life and operate independently of the artist who uses them.

Other highlights of the exhibition include a still-life of pastels (rendered in pastel) by Wayne Thiebaud; a portrait of a craftsman and his tools by Jacob Lawrence; a trio of screen prints by Marilyn Minter; and a book by Sol LeWitt.

The Artist and the Modern Studio is co-curated by Eric Lutz, associate curator of prints, drawings, and photographs, Ann-Maree Walker, research assistant, and Leah Chizek, research assistant.

CONTACT: Matthew Hathaway, 314.655.5493, matthew.hathaway@slam.org