Nina Chanel Abney's paintings are visually frenetic, reflecting the fast-paced energy of life today. Her imagery refers to such diverse subjects as pop culture, world events, and art history in compositions with flattened, simplified forms. Abney's works commonly incorporate snippets of text, disembodied figures and silhouettes, and geometric abstract shapes. Themes that relate to American society, including celebrity culture, race, sexuality, and police brutality, are broached in her paintings.
Figures from the Collection offers various artists’ perspectives on people and their surroundings. The works’ subject matter ranges from autobiographical and inclusive of friends and acquaintances to historical or completely fictional. Taken entirely from the Modern’s permanent collection, the exhibition includes paintings, photographs, videos, prints, and drawings.
Katherine Bradford is known for her vibrant palette and eccentric compositions. Often built up over months and sometimes years, Bradford’s paintings are textured, semi-transparent coats of acrylic paint, with hints of pentimenti exposed in the finished surface. Her recent works revisit several of her favored motifs, such as ships and swimmers—traditional and enduring subjects seen throughout art history. Bradford’s canvases, however, are more ominous, and often improbable in comparison to the relative calm of James McNeill Whistler’s paintings or Paul Cézanne’s portraits of bathers.
Thirteen themed haunted houses across America make up the imagery for Misty Keasler’s Haunt, 2015–2017. A driving force behind this series, which depicts interior rooms and exterior scenes, is that the subject matter takes photography to the edge of where it fails as a medium. “Photographs,” Keasler explains, “are often used to document an experience, yet the experience of walking through a haunted house is completely lost in each of the still images.
Doug Aitken: Electric Earth is the first survey to comprehensively examine Aitken’s experimentations across mediums and disciplines, and it is organized as a full collaboration and dialogue with the artist and his studio.
Katherine Bernhardt’s vibrant and youthful paintings hover between abstraction and figuration. Recently, she has been working on paintings in which she juxtaposes everyday objects, such as those in Windex cigarettes basketball, 2016, that float flatly atop lushly painted, solid grounds of color. Her subjects abound in popular and consumer culture and are depicted in a simplified, flat, gestural style that approaches a cartoonish quality.
Artist Donald Sultan’s career began with his first solo exhibition in 1977 in New York City, when he was just 26 years old, and he rose to prominence in the 1980s. A painter, sculptor, and printmaker, Sultan is regarded for his ongoing large-scale painted still lifes featuring structural renderings of fruit, flowers, and other everyday objects, often abstracted and set against a rich, black background; but he is also noted for his significant industrial landscape series that began in the early 1980s entitled the Disaster Paintings, on which the artist worked for nearly a decade.
Stanley Whitney investigates the intricate possibilities of color and form in the realm of abstract painting. Since the mid-1970s, Whitney has been known for his multicolored, irregular grids on square canvases. Taking the essentialist grid of minimalism as his cue, his configurations are loose, uneven geometric lattices comprised of vibrant stacked color blocks that vary in hue, shape, and the handling of the paint. Whitney also utilizes color as subject, and his paintings often refer to literature, music, places, and other artists, connections that are bolstered in his titles.
Since the beginning of her career in the mid-1980s, Lorna Simpson has become known for her conceptual photographs and videos that question the nature of representation, and challenge historical and preconceived views of racial and sexual identity. Rooted in her longstanding interest in photography and photographic collage, Simpson’s recent paintings incorporate found imagery, often taken from AP photographs and vintage magazines, which the artist overpaints and divides across several panels.