Special Presentation

Lecture: Mexican Contemporary Art and the Art Historical Canon
Thursday, September 12, 6 to 7 pm, with book signing to follow

In conjunction with the recent publication of Art and Architecture in Mexico, author James Oles provides insight into the process behind writing the first comprehensive survey of Mexican art in almost half a century. Oles explores how art history surveys were previously crafted by scholars and museum curators, and he discusses the benefits and pitfalls of taking a long rather than tightly focused view of Mexican art history. Rather than emphasize continuity over time, the book emphasizes cross-generational connections, and much of the talk focuses on the historical context—direct and indirect—that informs the work of Mexico’s vibrant contemporary artists, several of whom—such as Francis Alÿs, Melanie Smith, and Teresa Margolles—are included in the Modern’s current exhibition, México Inside Out: Themes in Art Since 1990.

Francis Alÿs, artist featured in México Inside Out: Themes in Art Since 1990, in conversation with James Oles, scholar of the art and architecture of Mexico

For this Tuesday Evenings presentation, Belgium-born and Mexico City–based artist Francis Alÿs is in conversation with art historian James Oles, discussing relationships between the artist’s early and current work.

Alÿs is one of the most important contemporary artists working today, with a practice that embraces multiple media, spanning painting, sculpture, photography, and film. Having exhibitions throughout the United States, Latin America, and Europe—including dOCUMENTA (13) and, most recently, a two-part exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo—Alÿs’s extraordinary practice has been lauded by many. Mark Godfrey, in his opening essay for Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception, a major survey that opened at Tate Modern in London and closed at The Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2011, writes, “What makes Francis Alÿs’s practice one of the most compelling in recent art is that he manages to find poetic and imaginative ways to address the urgent political and economic crises of contemporary life.”

Oles divides his time between Mexico City and suburban Boston, where he teaches Latin American art at Wellesley College and serves as adjunct curator of Latin American art at the Davis Museum, where Alÿs was given his first one-man show in the Boston area in 2012. Oles has most recently written a survey textbook, Art and Architecture in Mexico, published by Thames and Hudson.

Alÿs and Oles have been friends for over two decades, and this relationship, as well as their obvious insight into Alÿs’s work, makes this a special presentation that also serves as a preview for México Inside Out: Themes in Art Since 1990, which opens to the public on September 15.

Sundays with the Modern offers unique perspectives on the Museum’s architecture, permanent collection, and special exhibitions. Artists, art historians, critics, writers, and architects hold conversations and lead tours in the galleries.

Sundays with the Modern offers unique perspectives on the Museum’s architecture, permanent collection, and special exhibitions. Artists, art historians, critics, writers, and architects hold conversations and lead tours in the galleries.

Sundays with the Modern offers unique perspectives on the Museum’s architecture, permanent collection, and special exhibitions. Artists, art historians, critics, writers, and architects hold conversations and lead tours in the galleries.

San Francisco-based artist Barry McGee developed an early and impassioned following for his unsanctioned work on the streets of San Francisco under tags such as "Twist," "Ray Fong," and "Lydia Fong." With dynamic images that use the visual chaos of the street to address urban class tension and are inspired by a variety of sources such as hobo art, sign painting, graffiti comics, and Beat literature, McGee now has an international exhibition record that includes shows at Deitch Projects, UCLA Hammer Museum, Foundation Cartier in Paris, and Fondazione Prada in Milan. McGee's work was a natural for the highly acclaimed exhibition Art In the Street at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Berkley Art Museum has recently organized the artist's first major survey exhibition which travels to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and is accompanied by a 400-page catalogue.

 With his work featured in the museum's exhibition FOCUS: Barry McGee, the artist is in conversation with the Modern's curator Andrea Karnes for this Tuesday Evenings presentation.

Robyn O'Neil is a Los Angeles-based artist with Texas roots whose labor-intensive narrative drawings have a cinematic flair with Shakespearean-like titles that add to their mystery and intrigue. O'Neil is a consummate learner, having begun her education in British Studies, British Art, and British Architecture at Kings College in London before settling on art. After a BFA at Texas A&M University, Commerce, O'Neil entered the graduate program at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Opportunities followed that landed her work in the 2004 Whitney Biennial and began a significant exhibition record, bringing her critical acclaim. As the 2009 Huntington Prize recipient, O'Neil focused on her studio, and in 2010, she took an opportunity to attend Werner Herzog's Rogue Film School in Los Angeles where, in collaboration with director Eoghan Kidney, she created We, The Masses, an otherworldly animated adaptation of the artist's skillful, dark, and enticing drawings for which she received a FRAMEWORKS Grant from the Irish Film Board and was awarded the 2012 Spirit Award at the Brooklyn Film Festival. The Modern is proud to have attained O'Neil's seminal These final hours embrace at last; this is our ending, this is our past., 2007,which brings to a close an almost decade-long series of drawings. The sole figure in the work is "forever hanging in the middle ground of the drawing, attached to heaven by a fraying thread, suspended above a monstrous ocean wave" as the last of the artist's "men in sweat suits."

For her Tuesday Evenings presentation, "Ending Things,"O'Neil discerningly addresses the nature of "endings," from the last lines of poems to final episodes of TV sitcoms, explaining that, "Endings can be inconclusive, but yet are still called 'endings'. They are also starting points; things must end so that something else will happen. In order to be reborn, one must first die." 

Cabinet Magazine, Pastelegram, and Triple Canopy come together for this Tuesday Evenings presentation to consider and discuss the vibrant life and perceived challenges of today's art publications. Each has thoughtfully considered its unique contribution to a discourse that keeps us all engaged and informed, encouraging our intellectual curiosity to face the challenge of not becoming complacent in a gluttonous world of information that can leave us knowing and caring about less rather than more.

Triple Canopy's beautifully crafted online format determined five years ago to "create a magazine that could be read, really read online. Art that would be looked at for more than a few seconds. Small and large ideas given the time to make their case." Since then, it has pursued an "expanded field of publication," charting the relationships between digital technology and printed volumes, Web-specific artist projects and critical writing, and their various publics.

For its dense and handsome magazine, Cabinet looks to curiosity and method, represented philosophically and poetically by the fox and the hedgehog as their guiding principle, "dedicated to staging an encounter between these two outlooks in the belief that each can disrupt the familiar comforts and presumptions of the other, and that an ethics for how to understand-and therefore possibly change-the world can emerge from the fiction between them."

Finally, Pastelegram represents Texas. It is a new, innovative online and biannual print publication based in Austin that "takes focused looks at individual artist's projects and the texts and images that informed their creation. Dedicated to contemporary artists, art historians and critics as well as the myriad ideas that inform their projects, Pastelegram provides an international platform for the examination of artistic and historical practice."

This evening promises to be a lively and productive conversation that touches on the most contemporary and real issues of communication and art, as well as the broader culture that art engenders and shares.

Sundays with the Modern offers unique perspectives on the Museum’s architecture, permanent collection, and special exhibitions. Artists, art historians, critics, writers, and architects hold conversations and lead tours in the galleries.


Trenton Doyle Hancock is an artist living and working in Houston, Texas, who has had an impressive career trajectory. Before completing his MFA at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hancock's work was chosen for the 2000 Whitney Biennial, and his mysterious narrative-based paintings, drawings, and installations have been in demand ever since. The Modern is proud to own a number of the artist's etching portfolios and his impressive large-scale, mixed-media work And The Branches Became As Storm Clouds, 2003. Beyond the Modern, Hancock is well represented in the DFW Metroplex, including one of the most spectacular pieces in Gene and Jerry Jones' collection at Cowboys Stadium. In 2008, Hancock parlayed into the world of dance with Cult of Color: Call to Color, a collaboration with composer Graham Reynolds and choreographer Stephen Mills for Ballet Austin, which received great critical acclaim, with Eleanor Heartney calling it "an exuberant mix" that "swept the viewer along in a satisfying blend of sound, imagery and movement" in an article for Art in America.   


For Tuesday Evenings, Hancock presents "In Preparation of the Bring Back,"in which he shares a new direction in his work, having moved from his signature narrative into a more personal exploration as evidenced in his exhibition ... And Then It All Came Back to Me at James Cohan Gallery in New York this past fall.


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