Still Missing: Beauty Absent Social Life
School of Visual Arts presents “Still Missing: Beauty Absent Social Life,” an exhibition of paintings exploring the sense of isolation or disconnectedness that has come to define the modern era. The works in the exhibition address the longing for more fulfilling social relations and its relationship to beauty as an expression of hope or desire. “Still Missing” includes nine emerging and established artists from the U.S. and Germany who work in figurative and abstract traditions. Curated by Tom Huhn, chair of the Art History Department at SVA, the exhibition will be on view September 5 – October 7, 2006, at the Visual Arts Museum, 209 East 23rd Street, New York City.
“One of the most compelling things about the works in the exhibition is the ambivalence each has toward its own beauty,” said Huhn. “Beauty is one of the most fertile grounds of contemporary art-making because it brings to light the complicities and complexities of our desire for society.
“Still Missing” takes its cue from painting’s centuries-old concern with absence. Historically, painting has been an attempt to make present that which is no longer there – whether the buffalo outlined in a cave painting, objects captured in a still life or the sitter for a portrait.
The exhibition addresses a number of questions pertinent to painting today and in particular the question of what kind of society contemporary art depicts as desirable. For all the recent discussion of absence among theorists and philosophers, how have contemporary artists given visual appearance to social longing? What might an absent society look like?
Richmond Burton lives and works in East Hampton, New York, and is represented by Cheim & Read; his work is widely exhibited and held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. Based in Brooklyn, Jeff Gauntt has exhibited at PS1 Contemporary Art Center and in group exhibitions across the U.S.; he is represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co. David Humphrey lives and works in New York City and is also represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co.; he has shown recently at Triple Candie. Katharina Immekus lives and works in Leipzig, and is represented by Galerie b2_. Also based in Leipzig, Verena Landau has exhibited in Leipzig, Essen, Düsseldorf and New York. Chris Martin (MPS 1992 Art Therapy) lives and works in New York and has exhibited recently at Uta Scharf and Sideshow Gallery. Matthias Ludwig lives and works in Leipzig; he has shown at Galerie Gmyrek, Düsseldorf and Kunstverein Leipzig. Based in New York, Gary Stephan has exhibited internationally for nearly four decades and teaches at SVA. Amy Wilson lives and works in Jersey City, New Jersey, and is on the faculty at SVA; she is represented by Bellwether Gallery, New York.
Tom Huhn is a writer and philosopher whose current research is focused on the history of aesthetic pleasure. His book publications include: Imitation and Society: The Persistence of Mimesis in the Aesthetics of Burke, Hogarth and Kant (Penn State Press, 2004); and The Wake of Art: Criticism, Philosophy and the Ends of Taste (Gordon & Breach, 1998). Huhn’s essays have appeared in Art Criticism, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, The Oxford Art Journal and New German Critique. Huhn was appointed chair of the Art History Department at SVA in August 2005. “Still Missing” is the first exhibition he has curated at SVA.
There will be a panel discussion moderated by art historian and Artforum contributing editor Jan Avgikos on Tuesday, September 12, 7pm. The event takes place at the School of Visual Arts, 3rd-floor amphitheater, 209 East 23rd Street.