Language as Representation
Fisher Landau Center for Art is excited to present LANGUAGE as REPRESENTATION, featuring 14 large-scale paintings from the collection, made by John Baldessari, Nancy Dwyer, Neil Jenney, Barbara Kruger, Suzanne McClelland, Richard Prince and Ed Ruscha. Owing to Emily Fisher Landau’s unique vision and thoughtful dedication to artwork that challenges conventional notions of imagery, these seven artists provide a selection of canvases that stimulate the audience both visually and intellectually.
Upon entering the 3rd floor gallery, the viewer is presented with three versions of Ed Ruscha’s emblematic use of text. Mint (1968) is derived from his seminal series of “Liquid Word” paintings, offering a fluid rendering that frees the visual depiction from its’ typographic constraints. LION IN OIL (2002) constructs a palindrome executed in Ruscha’s signature Boy Scout Utility Modern typeface, overlaid onto a vertically symmetrical mountain range that mimics the back and forth sequence of the words. LIFE (1984) conveys an atmospheric landscape with letters that form an illusionistic cloud, exuding a surreal quality self-referencing his hard-edged history in one semblance of a piece of masking tape. Richard Prince’s My First Girl (1989) is part of his series of “Monochromatic Joke” paintings utilizing direct appropriations from stand up comedy and burlesque theatre to dwell on sexual fantasies and frustrations. Prince’s Most of the Time (1992) achieves a melancholy tone through the use of faded images that provide a poignant, yet tragic effect. The earliest work in the exhibition, John Baldessari’s What This Painting Aims to Do (1967) combines a conceptual approach to artistic creation with a wry sense of humor through his commissioning of a professional sign painter to letter passages from art and design textbooks. Nancy Dwyer’s Miracle (1986) becomes a critique of corporate logo presentation by commodifying an inexplicable event through the use of an inverted trademark sign, while Untitled (Let Me See) (1989) uses the pictorial format of a linguistic puzzle as an illustration into her forays as a graphic designer. Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Pledge) (1988) produces a floor to ceiling canvas spelling out the United States Pledge of Allegiance, made of vinyl with white letters on a red background in her signature Futura font. Neil Jenney’s PAINT AND PAINTED (1970) creates a philosophical feedback loop of language/image/object commenting on the act of painting at that artistic moment in time. By contrasting the gestural nature of the image to the sculptural integration of the frame Jenney slyly fashions a structure functioning as a symbolic label for the artwork’s title. Suzanne McClelland’s Alright, Alright, Alright (1992) animates fragments of speech invoking a calligraphic style initiated by artists such as Cy Twombly.
Deploying a Post Feminist Abstract Expressionist strategy, she allows the shape of the words to signify the sounds made when speaking, using the pronunciation of spoken language as the subject matter for her painting.
Housed in a former parachute harness factory, Fisher Landau Center for Art was designed by Max Gordon in association with Bill Katz and is devoted to the exhibition and study of the contemporary art collection of Emily Fisher Landau. The core of the 1500 work collection spans 1960 to the present and contains key works by individuals who have shaped the most significant art of the last 50 years. Emily Fisher Landau's insightful selection of works by contemporary masters, many of which she purchased from the artists at the outset of their careers is reflected in exhibitions presented at Fisher Landau Center for Art. Her ongoing commitment to emerging artists extends to the annual presentation of the Columbia University School of Visual Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition. In May of 2010, Mrs. Landau made a historic pledge of over 400 artworks by nearly 100 artists to the Whitney Museum of American Art, with a curated selection touring the United States through the Fall of 2014.