The FOCUS series is organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth for the Director's Council, a group that supports acquisitions at the Museum. The series features three solo exhibitions annually, organized by Assistant Curator Alison Hearst. FOCUS exhibitions are open to the public and are included in general museum admission: $10 for adults; $4 for seniors (60+) and students with identification; free for children 12 and under; free for Modern members.
2015-2016 FOCUS Exhibition Schedule
FOCUS: Joyce Pensato
November 21, 2015-January 31, 2016
Since the early 1970s, Joyce Pensato has utilized some of the most iconic American cartoons and comic book characters, such as Mickey Mouse, Felix the Cat, Donald Duck, the Simpsons, and Kyle and Stan from South Park, as starting points for her drawings and paintings. Pensato transforms these characters into portraits that vacillate between menacing and amusing, fretful and enthusiastic. Recognizing the emblematic power of cartoons and their ability to critique aspects of contemporary culture, Pensato freezes and modifies these familiar faces, isolating them to further comment on American society and its anxieties.
Pensato primarily works in an industrial palette of black, white, and silver enamel, which gives her works a gritty, dynamic street aesthetic. Her paintings are built up with viscous drips of enamel that merge figuration with the painterly cues of Abstract Expressionism. 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.
Joyce Pensato was born 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.
FOCUS: Glenn Kaino
January 30-April 17, 2016
Glenn Kaino's work carefully balances formal and conceptual concerns as the artist combines an often unexpected hybrid of materials in order to best communicate an idea, history, or system that might be less effective with traditional art media.His installation Tank, 2014, for example, is composed of seven aquariums containing clusters of coral species thriving on clear resin replicas of military tanks that are submerged in the water. Tank signals life after violence, rebuilding, and the organic triumphing over the inanimate. Kaino's project also mirrors the United States' practice of discarding used military weapons in ocean beds for an ironically positive outcome in the aquatic ecosystem: the artillery actually encourages reefs to flourish in areas of the ocean where the coral had previously been eradicated. The colorful variations of coral specimens in Tank border one another to form a coded, map-like appearance, indicating colonialism and the territorial battles connected with war. As the bordering coral species sting each other in nighttime battles to either seize more space or to protect themselves, they represent a microcosm of global concerns regarding conflict. As Kaino has stated, "Growing corals on this piece of artillery was a way for me to visualize a combination both beautiful and violent and to explore an urge at the most basic level to conquer and occupy in order to sustain life."
Kaino's assemblage process is akin to that of "kitbashing," when parts in a model kit are used innovatively to create something different than the project proposed by the set. His ability to dart from one material to another reflects his background and divergent interests; trained as a sculptor, he has also been involved in magic, software development, and other technological pursuits.
Glenn Kaino was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where he continues to live and work. He received a BA from the University of California at Irvine and an MFA from the University of California at San Diego. He has exhibited nationally and internationally, including solo exhibitions at Grand Arts, Kansas City, Missouri; Studio Museum, Harlem; Creative Time, New York; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. He participated in the 12th Biennale de Lyon, France; Prospect: 3, New Orleans; and he represented the United States in the 13th International Cairo Biennale. He has been in many group exhibitions at such institutions as the Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California; Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, Australia; and the Asia Society, New York.
FOCUS: Thomas Demand
April 30-July 17, 2016
The photographs of Thomas Demand merge truthful documentation and unsettling artifice-two polarities raised by photography since its inception. For over two decades, Demand has built intricate, life-size, three-dimensional models made wholly out of colored construction paper and cardboard that faithfully replicate specific architectural spaces and natural settings. He photographs the ephemeral structure and destroys it once the image is made. He uses the same sculptural techniques with stop-motion animation in his films.
The spaces conveyed in Demand's work are facsimiles of preexisting photographs, often circulated by the media, that document historically, culturally, and politically significant or notorious sites. However, devoid of the noted people and dramatic events that occurred in these places, his images seem both a little uncanny and rather banal. He has tackled such subjects as Henri Matisse's studio floor, the backyard of the Boston Marathon bomber's home, the Oval Office, the control room of the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant days after the 2011 tsunami, the room where the failed assassination of Hitler occurred, and the kitchen of Saddam Hussein's hideout. His finished photographs are thus thrice removed from the original site they intend to represent, raising questions about the inherently contrived nature of photography, even in the realm of documentation.
Thomas Demand was born in Munich and currently lives and works in Los Angeles and Berlin. He attended the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf and Goldsmiths College in London, where he received an MA. He has exhibited widely across the globe, including recent solo exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Hamburger Kunsthalle; Serpentine Gallery, London; Kunsthaus Bregenz; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. He has participated in many group shows at such venues as the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; KasselerKunstVerein, Germany; Yale School of Art, New Haven; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
The Director's Council
The Director's Council was formed in 1985 and supports the Modern with an annual acquisition for the permanent collection. The Director's Council sponsors the FOCUS series, which presents three solo exhibitions organized each year. Each exhibition opens with an exclusive cocktail reception for the Council, giving the members an opportunity to meet the featured artist and discuss his or her work. One piece by each artist is chosen by the Museum director and curator to be part of the final selection voted on at the Council's Purchase Meeting each May. This format provides members with an in-depth understanding of the Modern's acquisitions process and offers a spirited and popular series of events. The annual dues, $600, include all the benefits of a Family membership and invitations to exclusive Director's Council events.
Beginning with the 2015-16 FOCUS exhibition series, Alison Hearst, Assistant Curator of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, will be the sole organizer of the three annual exhibitions highlighting emerging and mid-career contemporary artists who have not yet had a solo exhibition in this region. Modern Curator Andrea Karnes started the series in 2005 and is handing over the reins this season.
Recent FOCUS exhibitions that Hearst has organized for the Modern featured work by artists Fred Tomaselli (2014), Jules de Balincourt (2014), and Mario García Torres (2015). She was the assistant curator of the exhibition México Inside Out: Themes in Art Since 1990 and interviewed Melanie Smith for the exhibition catalogue. Hearst also contributed an essay about abstraction to the catalogue for the exhibition Urban Theater: New York Art in the 1980s.