Merris’ sensibility is as organic and fluid as it is rigorous, as filled with wonder as it is informed by a sense of scientific reason, and it consistently navigates between such positions, seeing them not as oppositional, but naturally and intimately connected.

Dean Daderko, 2014

October 4: Benjamin Merris

Benjamin Merris brings his sense of wonder and thoughtful consideration of the world around him to Tuesday Evenings at the Modern, sharing his ideas and decisions in making his way and his mark as an artist. Attending Glasgow School of Art in Scotland for his graduate degree, Merris now lives and works in Brooklyn, while traveling and showing internationally.

For their Hudson, New York, inaugural exhibition All Ways Always, Jeff Bailey Gallery wrote that Merris’s paintings, sculpture, photographs, and outdoor installations are “process oriented, and combine painterly abstraction with an embodied naturalism.” This association with nature is signature for Merris, as suggested by many of the exhibitions in which his work is featured or included, such as The Secret Life in summer 2015 at Murray Guy Gallery in New York, which brought together cross-generational artists who “approach the natural world with an intuitive sense of curiosity and profound inventiveness.”

Curator Dean Daderko, who included Merris in the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston 2013 group exhibition Outside the Lines, explains the artist’s approach as follows, “Through his various experiments with painting, abstraction, nature and culture, Merris’ sense of play and curiosity is palpable and contagious, arousing and satisfying our curiosity. In his work, Merris seems dedicated to the camper’s edict: ‘leave it better than you found it.’”

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.
Curator of Education, Terri Thornton's blog post following this lecture.

Kandel’s new book “The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind and Brain” takes us back to turn-of-the-century Vienna, the place of his birth, and he writes about the salons there, where artists could mingle with writers and physicians and scientists. . . . But this isn't just an art history book. Kandel also gets deep into the science of the mind, what happens in the brain when we see a beautiful work of art, how it affects our emotions, how we recognize objects and faces, too. It is written by a neuroscientist, after all. Ira Flatow, Science Friday, NPR

Eric R. Kandel, MD, University Professor and Kavli Professor at Columbia University, Director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science, Co-director of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, and Senior Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, presents on his 2012 book The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, From Vienna 1900 to the Present. Dr. Kandel has received 23 honorary degrees and numerous awards and other forms of recognition in various aspects of his career, including the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2000, and The Age of Insight won the Kreisky Award in Literature, Austria's highest literary award.

Dr. Kandel explains, “The central challenge of science in the twenty-first century is to understand the human mind in biological terms. . . . I take up this central scientific challenge in The Age of Insight by focusing on how the new science of mind has begun to engage with art.” To relate present-day brain science to the Modernist painting of Vienna in 1900, he outlines in simple terms our current understanding of the cognitive psychological and neurobiological basis of perception, memory, emotion, empathy, and creativity. He then examines how cognitive psychology and brain biology have joined together to explore how the viewer perceives and responds to art.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.
Curator of Education, Terri Thornton's blog post following this lecture.

My biggest challenge in writing this book has been to leave the series as free as Stella leaves the novel. Before I could set it free however, I had to take it in, to see and to know its proliferating parts. Robert K. Wallace, from “Pictorial Voyage, More Than Meets the Eye” in Frank Stella’s Moby-Dick: Words and Shapes

Robert K. Wallace, Regents Professor of English at Northern Kentucky University and author of many books, including Frank Stella’s Moby-Dick: Words and Shapes, opens our fall 2016 Tuesday Evenings at the Modern season with his lecture “Pursuing Frank Stella’s Moby-Dick in Body, Mind, and Words.” For this special presentation, Wallace shares highlights from his physical and intellectual journey in trying to follow, and then interpret, Frank Stella’s twelve-year pursuit of Melville’s Moby-Dick—from the first prints and painted reliefs of the mid-1980s to the concluding prints, reliefs, and sculptures of the mid-1990s. Beginning in the early 1990s, Wallace interviewed Stella several times a year in his New York studio. He saw prints and sculptures in production at Tyler Graphics and Tallix Foundry, and he traveled to Japan and Europe to see as many of Stella’s Moby-Dick works in person as possible. In the wake of these various kinds of research, the ultimate challenge was to try to convey in words what Stella had achieved in his own pictorial terms in relation to the novel. This is one of our last opportunities to focus on aspects of Frank Stella: A Retrospective before this popular exhibition closes the following Sunday.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.

Curator of Education, Terri Thornton's blog post following this lecture.

What is a word for collaboration between material will and human intention that implies generation rather than decay?
Martha Tuttle, artist statement

Martha Tuttle is a New York-based artist whose solo debut, Martha Tuttle: Metaxu, at Tilton Gallery in New York, brought her most recent body of work critical attention, with David Ebony describing it as “understated and graceful” in his “Top 10 New York Gallery Shows This Winter.” Cait Munro reviewed the show for artnet news, writing, “While mass production and digitization continue to dominate the contemporary art conversation, 26-year old Martha Tuttle . . . is doing something refreshingly measured and tactile.” As the daughter of poet Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and artist Richard Tuttle, and having spent a great deal of her childhood in New Mexico, Martha Tuttle has an affinity for natural materials and meditative processes. She rigorously dyes, rubs, folds, weaves, and beats her materials, which include silk, wool, paper, hematite, woad, indigo, and logwood, into her luminous abstract wall reliefs that are clearly cared into being. Quoted in Munro’s review, Tuttle comments, “It’s important to me to be able to touch every part of something that I make. I find that if I spend a long time with something, it heightens that relationship that I have with it.”

For Tuesday Evenings, Martha Tuttle shares her thoughts and experiences in the making of her work. 

Martha Tuttle was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1989. She graduated from Bard College in 2011 and received her MFA in Painting and Printmaking from The Yale School of Art in 2015. She has held residencies at the New Mexico School of Poetics in Ojo Caliente in 2012, and in Grinnell, Iowa, in 2011. She received a Josef Albers Foundation Travelling Fellowship, as well as the Donald C. Gallup Research Fellowship from the Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library, Yale University, in 2014. She has exhibited her work in group shows throughout the US and Europe, and recently had her first solo exhibition in New York. She currently lives and works in New York.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube.

Curator of Education, Terri Thornton's blog post following this lecture.

Frank Stella, artist featured in Frank Stella: A Retrospective, in conversation with Modern Chief Curator Michael Auping

Over a 40-year career as a curator, I’ve interviewed hundreds of artists, each of them different and challenging in their own ways. However, “different” and “challenging” don’t begin to describe Frank Stella. Words like obsessed, relentlessly deductive, argumentative, self-critical, and “Malden, Massachusetts tough” (his birth place) come to mind; as do well-mannered, and well-educated (Andover and Princeton). . . . At nearly 80 years of age, Stella still seems one step ahead of the game, remaining the hyper, complex personality and deconstructionist of abstraction that brought him to international attention in the late 1950s. Michael Auping, “The Un-secret World of Frank Stella,” Voices in Contemporary Art (November 2015). 

Frank Stella and the Modern’s chief curator, Michael Auping, are in conversation as we anticipate the opening of Frank Stella: A Retrospective on Sunday, April 17. Auping, the curator and co-organizer of the exhibition, and Stella have spent several years contemplating and discussing the work and ideas behind an exhibition that spans the artist’s entire career, which began strong in 1959 at the age of 23, straight out of Princeton, with the now-historic Black Paintings and has never rested or settled as Stella continues to address the issues of painting today.

As Deborah Solomon queried for the New York Times, as a preview to the exhibition’s opening at the Whitney Museum of American Art last fall, “What does it mean that Frank Stella, 79, the champion of abstract art, has been tapped for the inaugural retrospective at the new building?” After a few proposals, Solomon goes on to ultimately answer her own question with, “Mr. Stella has done more than any other living artist to carry abstract art, the house style of modernism, into the postmodern era.”

For Tuesday Evenings, Michael Auping and Frank Stella address the forthrightness, diligence, shifts, and allegiances of the artist’s impressive career as reflected in Frank Stella: A Retrospective.

Frank Stella (b. 1936) is one of the most important living American artists. Since his first solo gallery exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery in 1960, Stella has exhibited widely throughout the US and abroad. Early in his career, his work was included in a number of significant exhibitions that defined the art of the postwar era, including Sixteen Americans, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1959; Geometric Abstraction, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1962; The Shaped Canvas, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1964–65; Systemic Painting, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1966; Documenta 4, Kassel, 1968; and Structure of Color, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1971. He has  received many awards and honors, including First Prize at the International Biennial Exhibition of Paintings in Tokyo (1967); Orde des Arts et des Lettres from the French Government (1989); Gold Medal for Graphic Art Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York (1998), and the National Medal of Arts (2010). Frank Stella: A Retrospective is organized by Michael Auping, Chief Curator, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, in association with Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube

Curator of Education, Terri Thornton's blog post following this lecture.

Minus the gold leaf, they function like pictures with pronounced textual elements — in other words, illustrated manuscripts for the 21st century.
Christian Viveros-Fauné, “Fernando Bryce, One-of-a Kind Copyist, On View in Chelsea,” Village Voice, December 15, 2015.

Fernando Bryce is a New York- and Lima-based artist, renowned in his home country of Peru and recognized internationally for his “mimetic analysis,” in which he culls archives for print materials such as advertisements, newspaper articles, and propaganda pamphlets in order to faithfully reproduce a carefully chosen selection for his own ink-on-paper “reconstructions.”

Bryce’s most recent exhibition, at Alexander and Bonin in New York this past fall, addressed the discourse of universal values during the 1940s and 1950s with three major works: The Book of Needs, Arte Nuevo, and ARTnews 1944–1947. He chronicled the changing international climate at the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War and surveyed media representation of the subsequent cultural shifts. Art historian Andrea Giunta writes for the exhibition, “Through his method of mimetic analysis, [Bryce] reproduces and renews the archive he has compiled around this system of representations that drew a triangle between Paris, New York and Buenos Aires. The meticulous copying of the original gives new life to the written word and to everything these texts and images condensed. . . . By bringing this archive into the present he clearly goes beyond a simple archeology of the past.”

For Tuesday Evenings, Fernando Bryce shares his scrupulous and deliberated approach to artmaking that produces such ambitious works. 

Fernando Bryce (b. 1965 Lima) currently lives and works in Lima and New York. In 2011, a major survey of his work, Drawing Modern History, was organized by the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI) and traveled to Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Mexico City, and Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA). His work has been exhibited internationally, including at Manifesta 4, Frankfurt am Main, 2002; 8th International Istanbul Biennial, 2003; 26th Biennial of São Paulo, 2004; 54th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, 2005; T1: The Pantagruel Syndrome, Castello di Rivoli, Turin, 2006; and the 11th Biennale de Lyon, 2011.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube

Curator of Education, Terri Thornton's blog post following this lecture.

What persists is an understated elegance and a sensitivity to gesture, color, and composition in fragmentary pictures: a silhouetted figure, a masked face, a veined arm. Presented in an oval format . . . the images might have been spied through a keyhole, and their Old Master allusiveness isn’t contradicted by the suggestion of dust and sweat.
New Yorker
, review of Arne Svenson: The Workers at Julie Saul Gallery, 2015

Arne Svenson is a New York-based artist whose work has led him down numerous and varied paths of visual exploration, from landscape photographs of Las Vegas to portraits of sock monkeys, forensic facial reconstructions, and medical museum specimens. The Modern recently acquired three works from Svenson’s significant Neighbors series: Neighbors #38, Neighbors #44, and Neighbors #52. First and foremost in Svenson's practice is to seek out the inner life, the essence, of his subjects, whether they be human, inanimate, or something in between. He uses his camera as a reporter uses text, to create a narrative that facilitates the understanding of that which may lie hidden or obscured. This narrative, at times only a whisper or suggestion, weaves throughout his diverse body of work. He is currently working on a series shot in Sweden, The Forest, which explores the dichotomous relationship between photography and painting, the "sweet-spot" where perceived reality and fiction meet.

For Tuesday Evenings, Arne Svenson shares work and ideas from throughout his career, including his most recent endeavors.

Arne Svenson was born in 1952 in Santa Monica, California. His photographs have been shown extensively in the United States and Europe and are included in numerous public and private collections, including the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Carnegie Museum of Art. Self-taught, with an educational and vocational background in special education, Svenson is the author/photographer of many books, including Prisoners, Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863) with Ron Warren, The Neighbors, and the upcoming Unspeaking Likeness. His most recent exhibitions are The Workers at the Julie Saul Gallery in New York, 2015, and The Neighbors at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, 2016.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube

Curator of Education, Terri Thornton's blog post following this lecture.

Pensato’s stark colors, economy of form, and distortion still leave her prototypes recognizable, though their features are often hollow and masklike. Her versions of these characters are pushed to the point of being tragicomic clowns, analyzing American notions of physical beauty and the dark underbelly of American culture.                                                                                            
Alison Hearst, Assistant Curator, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, FOCUS: Joyce Pensato

Joyce Pensato is a Brooklyn-based artist whose paintings are readily recognized for their iconic subjects and bold presentation. Since the mid-1970s she has referenced and critiqued American popular culture, suggesting the influence of Pop Art while pointing to Abstract Expressionism through large, physical, drippy paintings of cartoon and comic characters such as Felix the Cat, Mickey Mouse, and Homer Simpson. Attending the New York Studio School in the 1970s, Pensato found her signature style and subject matter early in her career, merging a drawing-heavy, expressive markmaking-focused education with the pop culture figures that fascinated her in their form and content - such as the powerful image of Batman, with his ominous and formally striking mask. 

For Tuesday Evenings at the Modern, Joyce Pensato presents a personal look at her career, sharing important influences from the art world and pop culture.

Joyce Pensato was born in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, and attended the New York Studio School. She continues to live and work in Brooklyn. Pensato has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally, including her 2013 solo exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, California, which traveled to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Missouri. Her work has been featured in many group exhibitions at such venues as the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; Uferhallen, Berlin; Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Pensato’s work is in the collections of many institutions, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube

Curator of Education, Terri Thornton's blog post following this lecture.

Feehily has a very good eye, and knows how to make modesty feel major. And that, evidently, is plenty.                                         
Martin Herbert, review of Fergus Feehily at Stuart Shave/Modern Art, Frieze (October 2011).

Fergus Feehily is a Berlin- and Helsinki-based artist known for works that present as unassuming in scale, content, and fabrication, but with time and close examination reveal a quiet yet enormous power. While clearly aware of his Post-Minimalist heritage, Feehily is too in touch with the moment of making to be consciously beholden to his predecessors. Feehily’s own push and pull between permanence and impermanence, the deliberate and the accidental, finished and unfinished creates an unidentifiable but exhilarating anxiety that the artist uses to engage the viewer. As described by Martin Herbert in a review for Frieze magazine, “There’s an appealing sense of these works as waiting, each inlaid with their handful of concealed quirks. . . . What strikes you is the operation of a consistent if slightly unpredictable sensibility: these are paintings that feel to have been rigorously tuned, arrested when they’re no longer austere and not yet busy.”

For Tuesday Evenings at the Modern, Fergus Feehily shares the ideas that have determined his career as an intriguing and significant contemporary artist.

Fergus Feehily was born in 1968 in Dublin and lives and works in Berlin and Helsinki. Solo exhibitions include presentations at Capital, San Fransisco, 2015; The Suburban, Milwaukee, 2015; Misako & Rosen, Tokyo, 2013 and 2010; Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, 2012 and 2009; Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London, 2011; Dallas Museum of Art, 2011; Galerie Christian Lethert, Cologne, 2010; and Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen, 2008. His work has also been shown in numerous group exhibitions, including Why not live for Art? II - 9 collectors reveal their treasures, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, 2013; Painter Painter, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2013; Changing States: Contemporary Irish Art & Francis Bacon’s Studio, BOZAR, Center for Fine Arts, Brussels, 2013; Painting Expanded, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, 2011; and Twenty, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2011. Feehily’s work is included in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. He is currently Professor in Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki.

Curator of Education, Terri Thornton's blog post following this lecture.
A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube

Richard Wentworth, a leading figure in British art since the 1970s, is in dialogue with curator and writer Gavin Morrison to mark the recent publication of Making Do and Getting By.

I find cigarette packets folded up under table legs more monumental than a Henry Moore. Five reasons. Firstly the scale. Secondly, the fingertip manipulation. Thirdly, modesty of both gesture and material. Fourth, its absurdity and fifth, the fact that it works. Richard Wentworth, “Losing Battles: A Conversation between Richard Wentworth and Stuart Morgan, May 1984,” in Richard Wentworth (Lisson Gallery: London, 1984)

Wentworth’s Making Do and Getting By celebrates his photographic series of the same name. Published by Koenig Books, in association with Peter Freeman, Inc. and Lisson Gallery, the book investigates processes of perception and communication. Beyond this, it documents an excess - a creativity beyond necessary functionality, something transformative that lurks below the surface intention in acts of ordering and repair. In this ongoing series of photographs taken on his daily trajectories, Wentworth frames the art of the human hand with a light and witty touch.

For Tuesday Evenings at the Modern, friends Morrison and Wentworth take this special opportunity to consider the practice of making images and making books.

Richard Wentworth lives and works in London. Major solo presentations include Bold Tendencies, London, 2015; Black Maria, with Gruppe, London, 2013; Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2010; 52nd Venice Biennale, 2009; Tate Liverpool, 2005; Artangel, London, 2002; Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, 1998; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1994; and Serpentine Gallery, London, 1993.

Gavin Morrison is a curator and writer based in Marseille, France, and Scotland. He is currently the Artistic Director of Skaftfell, Center of Visual Art in East Iceland, as well a director of the curatorial and publishing initiative Atopia Projects. From 2007 to 2009, Morrison was the inaugural curator of Fort Worth Contemporary Arts.

Curator of Education, Terri Thornton's blog post following this lecture.
A video recording of this lectures will be available on the Modern's Youtube