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With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985

With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985

Alan Shields | Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles

October 27, 2019 – March 30, 2020

With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985 is the first full-scale scholarly survey of this groundbreaking American art movement, encompassing works in painting, sculpture, collage, ceramics, installation art, and performance documentation. Covering the years 1972 to 1985 and featuring approximately fifty artists from across the United States, the exhibition examines the Pattern and Decoration movement’s defiant embrace of forms traditionally coded as feminine, domestic, ornamental, or craft-based and thought to be categorically inferior to fine art. Pattern and Decoration artists gleaned motifs, color schemes, and materials from the decorative arts, freely appropriating floral, arabesque, and patchwork patterns and arranging them in intricate, almost dizzying, and sometimes purposefully gaudy designs. Their work across mediums pointedly evokes a pluralistic array of sources from Islamic architectural ornamentation to American quilts, wallpaper, Persian carpets, and domestic embroidery. Pattern and Decoration artists practiced a postmodernist art of appropriation borne of love for its sources rather than the cynical detachment that became de rigueur in the international art world of the 1980s. This exhibition traces the movement’s broad reach in postwar American art by including artists widely regarded as comprising the core of the movement, such as Valerie Jaudon, Joyce Kozloff, Robert Kushner, Kim MacConnel, and Miriam Schapiro; artists whose contributions to Pattern and Decoration have been underrecognized, such as Merion Estes, Dee Shapiro, Kendall Shaw, and Takako Yamaguchi; as well as artists who are not normally considered in the context of Pattern and Decoration, such as Emma Amos, Billy Al Bengston, Al Loving, and Betty Woodman. Though little studied today, the Pattern and Decoration movement was institutionally recognized, critically received, and commercially successful from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. The overwhelming preponderance of craft-based practices and unabashedly decorative sensibilities in art of the present-day point to an influential P&D legacy that is ripe for consideration. 

Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection

Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection

Alan Shields | Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

May 24, 2019–January 12, 2020

The first-ever artist-curated exhibition mounted at the Guggenheim celebrates the museum’s extensive collection of modern and contemporary art. Curated by Cai Guo-Qiang, Paul Chan, Jenny Holzer, Julie Mehretu, Richard Prince, and Carrie Mae Weems—artists who each have had influential solo shows at the museum—Artistic License brings together both well-known and rarely seen works from the turn of the century to 1980.

 

Each artist was invited to make selections to shape a discrete presentation, one on each of the six levels of the rotunda. With the museum’s curators and conservators, they searched through the collection in storage, encountering renowned masterpieces while also finding singular contributions by less-prominent figures. The resulting exhibition presents nearly 300 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and installations, some never before shown, that engage with the cultural discourses of their time—from the utopian aspirations of early modernism to the formal explorations of mid-century abstraction and the sociopolitical debates of the 1960s and ’70s. On view during the 60th anniversary of the Guggenheim’s iconic Frank Lloyd Wright–designed building, Artistic License honors the museum’s artist-centric ethos and commitment to art as a force for upending expectations and expanding perspectives.

a close up of a bead and canvas work by Alan Shields

Alan Shields: Where Art Life Met Island Life

Shelter Island Historical Society

July 6 - September 2, 2019

A selection of works by Alan Shields, created during his time on Shelter Island. Curated by his daughter Victoria Weslek.

Outliers and American Vanguard Art

Outliers and American Vanguard Art

Alan Shields | National Gallery of Art

January 28 – May 13, 2018

Some 250 works explore three distinct periods in American history when mainstream and outlier artists intersected, ushering in new paradigms based on inclusion, integration, and assimilation. The exhibition aligns work by such diverse artists as Charles Sheeler, Christina Ramberg, and Matt Mullican with both historic folk art and works by self-taught artists ranging from Horace Pippin to Janet Sobel and Joseph Yoakum. It also examines a recent influx of radically expressive work made on the margins that redefined the boundaries of the mainstream art world, while challenging the very categories of “outsider” and “self-taught.” Historicizing the shifting identity and role of this distinctly American version of modernism’s “other,” the exhibition probes assumptions about creativity, artistic practice, and the role of the artist in contemporary culture. A fully illustrated catalog accompanies the exhibition.

 

The exhibition is curated by Lynne Cooke, senior curator, special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art.

 

Traveling:

High Museum of Art, Atlanta, June 24–September 30, 2018
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, November 18, 2018–March 18, 2019

The Fabricators

The Fabricators

Alan Shields | Akron Art Museum

September 22, 2018 - March 3, 2019

In the mid-twentieth century, abstract painters pushed back against the venerable tradition of easel painting, applying pigment to canvas sprawled directly on the studio floor. A generation of artists working in the late 1960s and 1970s went further, manipulating canvas or paper in ways that fabric is commonly handled: folding, scrunching or sewing. The Fabricators brings together the work of four abstract artists who treated traditional art supplies like one might treat cloth.

 

While best known for his painting-sculpture hybrids of canvases draped from gallery ceilings and walls, Sam Gilliam (born 1933) is also an accomplished printmaker. For his print Thursday, Gilliam paired a handmade sheet of paper with another covered in marks applied with a silkscreen. The artist stitched the two pieces together using a sewing machine. Craig Lucas (1941-2011) applied acrylic paint to the surface of paper collaged with tape, fabric and paperboard. For his large untitled work from 1973, Lucas folded the linen-back paper as he worked. Alan Shields (1944-2005) learned to sew while growing up on a farm in central Kansas. He used Rit, a common fabric dye, to add color to paper and canvas, and embellished the surfaces with beads and machine-stitched thread. Kenneth Showell (1939-1997) crumpled canvas into balls and showered them with tiny droplets of paint using a spray gun. After the canvas dried, he stretched it tightly across wooden bars.

Pattern Decoration & Crime

Pattern Decoration & Crime

Alan Shields | MAMCO Geneva

October 10, 2018 - March 2, 2019

This Fall, MAMCO examines the “Pattern & Decoration” movement, formed in the 1970s and that enjoyed international success in the 1980s, before fading in the decades thereafter. Most of the artists involved were reacting against the dominance of abstract schools in the post-War era, with a particular opposition to Minimal and Conceptual art. They also criticized the pervasive dominance of Western art and male artists in the context of modernism as a whole. Including an equal number of men and women, the group organized around “pattern and decoration” reconnected with what was widely perceived as “minor” art forms and asserted decoration as the true repressed of modernity. This Fall, MAMCO examines the “Pattern & Decoration” movement, formed in the 1970s and that enjoyed international success in the 1980s, before fading in the decades thereafter. Most of the artists involved were reacting against the dominance of abstract schools in the post-War era, with a particular opposition to Minimal and Conceptual art. They also criticized the pervasive dominance of Western art and male artists in the context of modernism as a whole. Including an equal number of men and women, the group organized around “pattern and decoration” reconnected with what was widely perceived as “minor” art forms and asserted decoration as the true repressed of modernity.

 

Exhibited artists: 

Lynda Benglis, Cynthia Carlson, Jennifer Cecere, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Brad Davis, Noël Dolla, Sam Gilliam, Tina Girouard, Simon Hantaï, Valerie Jaudon, Richard Kalina, Joyce Kozloff, Robert Kushner, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Alvin D. Loving, Kim MacConnel, Rodney Ripps, Tony Robbin, Miriam Schapiro, Alan Shields, Ned Smyth, George Sugarman, Claude Viallat, Betty Woodman, George Woodman, Mario Yrisarry, Robert Zakanitch, Joe Zucker

Alan Shields: Common Threads

Alan Shields: Common Threads

The Parrish Art Museum

November 10, 2017 to October 31, 2018

Alan Shields: Common Threads provides insight into the artist’s life-long engagement with textile and the needle arts, and illustrates how his impetus to take painting down from the wall and the stretcher liberated his artistic process.