Beg Borrow and Steal is the first exhibition to be installed simultaneously in the Palm Springs Art Museum and the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert in The Galen building. Originally organized by the Rubell family for an immense, annual installation from their permanent collection that coincides with the international art scene surrounding Art Basel in Miami, the exhibition has been refined to accommodate the museum’s galleries. This selection includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, and videos by fifty-eight artists from the Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation. It surveys most of the artists included in the original installation, with an emphasis on those working on the west coast, especially Los Angeles. The Southern California focus is significant, not only for its relevance to our Palm Springs location, but also because the region has had a formidable influence on the use of appropriation in art, the subject of the exhibition.
As the director of the collection explains in the exhibition catalogue, in 2005 the Rubells had a series of conversations with artists Kelley Walker and Wade Guyton, who talked about the generosity of some artists in the nature of their work. Walker and Guyton described how artists like Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp and Richard Prince opened doors for other younger artists like themselves to walk through. The Rubells had never heard that opinion expressed as honestly before. This show was borne out of those conversations, and its title comes from a quote attributed to Picasso: “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”
Beg Borrow and Steal brings together artists from different generations whose works abandon the search for new visuals, seeking instead an inventive use of existing images, signs, and cultural symbols. Artists in the exhibition who established this artistic lexicon include Ai Weiwei, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Gober, Jenny Holzer, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Paul McCarthy, Takashi Murakami, Charles Ray, Andy Warhol, and Christopher Wool. Not surprisingly, photography plays a significant role in much of the work, which is represented in the exhibition by artists John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, Richard Prince, David Salle, and Cindy Sherman. This group has been called the “pictures generation” due to their manipulations of photographic imagery.
Subsequent artists have taken advantage of technical innovations and web-based access that have made multi-layered and densely informed reproduction a ubiquitous cultural phenomenon. Notably, many of the younger artists in the exhibition live and work in Los Angeles, reflecting its importance as a center for this new aesthetic language. They include Amy Bessone, Aaron Curry, Karl Haendel, Richard Hawkins, Thomas Houseago, Elad Lassry, Nathan Mabry, Stephen G. Rhodes, and Sterling Ruby. The exhibition thus presents a visual dialogue among internationally recognized older and younger artists who share a use of appropriated imagery. Their works contribute to the discussion of how borrowing – and stealing – can be a way to comment on the past and still create something new.
This exhibition is organized by the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, in conjunction with the Palm Springs Art Museum, and is funded in part by Donna MacMillan, and the museum’s Contemporary Art and Photography Collection Councils.
Members only reception Tuesday, February 5, 2013.