October 4, 2017  

Fort Worth, TX


Kendal Smith Lake
Manager of Communications
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth Presents
FOCUS: Nina Chanel Abney
January 27-March 18, 2018
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 Associate 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.
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. By touching on serious subjects in a colorful palette and graphic style, Abney's work is, as the artist states, "easy to swallow, hard to digest."
In the painting Hothouse, 2016, eight nude female figures span the length of the canvas in provocative poses; some look down and away, while others gaze directly at the viewer. These stylized figures oscillate between appearing fearful or reluctant and uninhibited, something that is further demonstrated with alternating text such as "no," "yes," and "XXX" on the canvas. Through these contradictions, Hothouse captures both the narcissistic aspect of social media and selfie culture as well as the continued objectification of women in our society and mass media. Drawing upon art history, the composition of Hothouse cites Pablo Picasso's painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907, which is notable in part for bucking against idealized representations of female beauty. Further alluding to art history, the colorful background and abstract forms in Hothouse, as in many of Abney's works, recalls the pop-cubist style of the American modernist painter Stuart Davis.
Although suggestive, Abney's paintings are open-ended, consisting of fragmented vignettes and narratives. This mirrors the way we consume data today - in incomplete, unrelated excerpts, through scrolling the Internet or flipping through the channels. By depicting aspects of American culture in a manner akin to how we now gather information, Abney's works are contemporary genre scenes in both style and subject.
Nina Chanel Abney was born in Chicago and currently lives in New York. She holds an MFA from Parsons School of Design in New York and a BFA from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. Her first museum exhibition, Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush, opened at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, in 2017 (traveling to the Chicago Cultural Center, February 10-May 6, 2018; Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and California African American Museum, Los Angeles, September 23, 2018-January 20, 2019; and Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York, April 7-August 4, 2019.) Abney has been included in group exhibitions at such venues as the Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich, Connecticut; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, among many others. Her work is included in public collections such as the Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Rubell Family Collection, Miami; Bronx Museum, New York; and Burger Collection, Hong Kong. This is Abney's first solo exhibition in Texas and will feature recent works.
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 each year. Each exhibition opens with a private 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 an Associate/Family-level membership and invitations to exclusive Director's Council events.
For a checklist, high-resolution images, or to schedule an interview, please e-mail the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth,
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
3200 Darnell Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76107
Telephone 817.738.9215
Toll-Free 1.866.824.5566
Fax 817.735.1161
Museum Gallery Hours
Tue 10 am-7 pm (Feb-Apr, Jun-Jul, Sep-Nov)
Tue-Sun 10 am-5 pm
Fri 10 am-8 pm
General Admission Prices (includes special exhibitions)
$4 for students with ID and seniors (60+)
$10 for adults (13+)
Free for children 12 and under
Free for Modern members
Free every Sunday and half-price every Wednesday.
Tue-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm
Sat-Sun 10 am-3 pm
Fri 5 pm-8:30 pm
Coffee, snacks, and dessert Tue-Sun 10 am-4:30 pm

The Modern is closed Mondays and holidays, including New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas.