February 5, 2010 – April 25, 2010
Desire is a complex human emotion and a driving force in our lives from childhood through old age. We all can recall examples of literature, film, and music that are rife with expressions of desire. But how do contemporary visual artists portray desire, and all its attendant psychological states—anticipation, arousal, longing, regret, and so on? This spring The Blanton presents a major exhibition of recent works in all media by an international roster of contemporary artists who have investigated notions of desire.
Works of art can illustrate or represent ideas, but they also suggest and evoke concepts without being literal. The range of works in DESIRE spans that spectrum, exploring the capacities of painting, video, sculpture, drawing and other contemporary mediums to express direct emotion. One provocative aspect of these works is not their imagery, per se, but the manner by which many of them take intimate experiences and translate them into public expression. Marilyn Minter’s Crystal Swallowvwould seem to capture a private moment of visceral response, yet in such detail and exaggerated scale that it becomes a grotesque advertisement for arousal. Glenn Ligon’s series, Lest We Forget, commemorates those flickers of romantic fantasy that sometimes occur while people watching. In this little-known work, Ligon made monuments to fleeting moments of attraction, conflating community interest, even history, with daydreaming. And Tracey Emin’svYou Should Have Loved Me reminds us of love letters, though it transmits the accusation of a lover scorned in the neon light of public signage as if to broadcast raw feeling to an uncaring world. Did we really want to know all that? And yet, how fascinating, evocative, and familiar…
These three charged and multivalent works join recent investigations by Bill Viola, Isaac Julien, James Drake, Petah Coyne, Gajin Fujita, Georganne Deen, Adam Pendleton, Peter Saul, Valeska Soares, Danica Phelps, Miguel Angel Rojas, Mads Lynnerup, Rochelle Feinstein, Richard Prince, Laurel Nakadate, Jesse Amado, Isabell Heimerdinger, Kalup Linzy, William Villalongo, Olaf Breuning, Alejandro Cesarco, Eve Sussman, Robert Kushner, Luisa Lambri, Chris Doyle and a dozen others that together constitute an engaging multi-generational exploration of desire. In addition, an informed selection of works of art from The Blanton’s print collection will add a historic counterpoint to the contemporary works on view.
DESIRE, the exhibition’s accompanying illustrated catalogue, contains texts by art writers, writers of fiction and romance fiction, poets, visual artists, all written in direct response to the contemporary works of art in the exhibition. DESIRE is curated by Annette DiMeo Carlozzi, The Blanton’s curator of American and contemporary art and director of curatorial affairs.
Desire is organized by the Blanton Museum of Art. Funding for the exhibition is provided in part by Melissa Jones a grant from Houston Endowment Inc. in honor of Melissa Jones for the presentation of contemporary art at The Blanton. The accompanying publication is made possible by Michael Chesser.