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Reception: Friday, September 13, 5-8pm

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DOCUMENT is pleased to present Supports/Surfaces: Objects of Knowledge, which features historical and recent work by Louis Cane, Noël Dolla and Claude Viallat. These three artists were members of Supports/Surfaces, a shifting group of some twelve French painters—André-Pierre Arnal, Vincent Bioulés, Cane, Marc Devade, Daniel Dezeuze, Dolla, Toni Grand, Bernard Pagés, Jean-Pierre Pincemin, Patrick Saytour, André Valensi and Viallat—who began collaborating and showing together in 1966. Supports/Surfaces: Objects of Knowledge will revisit Cane, Dolla and Viallat’s past work, while charting the evolution of their practices up through the present day.

 The majority of Supports/Surfaces artists hailed from the South of France, from cities such as Montpellier, Nîmes and Nice, which lent the group an outsider status relative to Paris. Several of them showed together in Impact 1 at Musée de Céret in 1966, the first of a series of foundational exhibitions curated by Viallat and poet and critic Jacques Lepage. This show included key influences on Supports/Surfaces such as Arman and Ben Vautier, representatives of Nouveau Réalisme’s interest in found objects and the street, and Daniel Buren, who would devise a strict painting system with the BMPT group one year later. Viallat taught at Nice’s Ecole des Arts Décoratifs between 1964 and 1968, and pioneered Supports/Surfaces’ process-driven, anti-compositional strategies. In 1966, he arrived at a signature technique, repeating a softened rectangular form, via stencil, into gridded patterns that could extend over the entirety of a painterly surface, as exemplified in 1970/053, 1970, on view in this show. Here the artist’s use of black carbonyl leaks oil beyond the form delimited by the stencil, making it doubly “soft” as a contour. Viallat’s reinvention of the modernist “allover” technique obviates the frame and stretcher in favor of loose canvases that can be draped onto any site or hung from the ceiling in gallery space, resulting in radically mobile paintings. He also tied lengths of painted rope into configurations of knots, as in 1972/C23, 1972. The rope works are exercises in form: 1972/C23 alternates between different sections of blue and red in different hues, punctuated by knots. Yet as the artist has acknowledged, they also allude to maritime labor. In 1969, his Red Elastic Net with Blue Knots was shown on a beach in Maguelone, a fishing village not far from Montpellier. 

Viallat’s work embodies Supports/Surfaces’ animating tension between the systematic interrogation of painting’s essential components, on the one hand, and a radical imbrication of the work into the world, on the other. Dolla organized bands of color and polka dots on strips of thin muslin fabric and hung them from the ceiling in works like Tarlatane, 1970. It is as if the series liberates Barnett Newman’s “zips” from the constraints of the frame and stretcher. He also made a point of painting on everyday materials such as handkerchiefs and dishtowels. In Supports/Surfaces, the found object is never presented on its own, as in the Duchampian readymade. Rather, it substitutes for a constituent, functional element, becoming surface, support or both at once. Painted in acrylic on a dishtowel, Dolla’s Torchon, 1971, delicately frames three black polka dots with vertical red lines. On either side of this central composition, at the edges of the fabric, are arrays of other dots, cascading vertically. This experimentation extended to modes of display. In 1969, Lepage curated Coaraze ’69, in a village some 25 miles inland from Nice; works were displayed in and around the town, in public space. Between June and August 1970, Viallat and Lepage organized Intérieur/Extérieur, a series of ephemeral, outdoor installations on France’s Mediterranean coast. The artists designated these settings as “neutral,” beyond the reach of institutions. In keeping with their anti-authorial stance, works were not attributed to individuals.

The group’s name dates to its first show in Paris, Support-Surface, curated in 1970 by Pierre Gaudibert and Viallat for ARC 1, sponsored by the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Supports/Surfaces artists based in Paris, including Cane and Devade, subsequently charted the group’s contentious theoretical direction through connections to the poststructuralist journal Tel Quel. Louis Althusser was a guiding light, albeit as refashioned by the art critic Marcelin Pleynet in his essay “Peinture et réalité.” Althusser’s idea that philosophy produces its own “objects of knowledge” was applied to an indeterminate painting practice that “proposes nothing that it is not prepared to revise or efface; it no longer proposes pictures or sculptures, but instead a type of activity that only recognizes itself in its productive, dialectical process.” Cane’s own Toiles Découpées (Cut Canvases) open out into the surrounding space from their positions on the wall, aiming for simultaneous absorption and materiality. This is palpable in the multihued Toile Découpée, 1970, that accompanies this exhibition. The canvas has clearly been cut open to reveal the wall beneath the work, yet at some distance the eye reorganizes an expanded pictorial composition that incorporates the wall as a white or off-white element. Cane would go on to found the programmatic journal Peintures: cahiers théoriques with Dezeuze, Devade and Bioulès, one of the first acts of which was to expel Viallat from the group in 1971, presaging Supports/Surfaces’ dissolution later that year. Yet this Maoist turn was only ever one side of the group, alongside its equally May ’68-inspired, utopian dimensions. Following another voice in its ear, that of Jacques Derrida, we might say that Supports/Surfaces differed from itself. The artists would reunite for exhibitions in 1974, 1991, and increasingly in recent years.

 

 

 

 

 

Howardena Pindell

Born in Philadelphia in 1943, Howardena Pindell studied painting at Boston University and Yale University. After graduating, she accepted a job in the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books at the Museum of Modern Art, where she remained for 12 years (1967–1979). In 1979, she began teaching at the State University of New York, Stony Brook where she is now a full professor. Throughout her career, Pindell has exhibited extensively. Notable solo-exhibitions include: Spelman College (1971, Atlanta), A.I.R. Gallery (1973, 1983, New York), Just Above Midtown (1977, New York), Lerner-Heller Gallery (1980, 1981, New York), The Studio Museum in Harlem (1986, New York), the Wadsworth Atheneum (1989, Hartford), Cyrus Gallery (1989, New York), G.R. N’Namdi Gallery (1992, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2006, Chicago, Detroit, and New York), Garth Greenan Gallery, New York (2014), and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta (2015).

Pindell often employs lengthy, metaphorical processes of destruction/reconstruction. She cuts canvases in strips and sews them back together, building up surfaces in elaborate stages. She paints or draws on sheets of paper, punches out dots from the paper using a paper hole punch, drops the dots onto her canvas, and finally squeegees paint through the “stencil” left in the paper from which she had punched the dots. Almost invariably, her paintings are installed unstretched, held to the wall merely by the strength of a few finishing nails. The artist’s fascination with gridded, serialized imagery, along with surface texture appears throughout her oeuvre. Even in her later, more politically charged work, Pindell reverts to these thematic focuses in order to address social issues of homelessness, AIDs, war, genocide, sexism, xenophobia, and apartheid.

Howardena Pindell’s work has been featured in many landmark museum exhibitions, such as: Contemporary Black Artists in America (1971, Whitney Museum of American Art), Rooms (1976, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center), Another Generation (1979, The Studio Museum in Harlem), Afro-American Abstraction (1980, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center), The Decade Show: Frameworks of Identity in the 1980s (1990, New Museum of Contemporary Art), and Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African-American Women Artists (1996, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta).

Most recently, Pindell’s work appeared in: We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–1985 (2017, the Brooklyn Museum, New York), Energy/Experimentation: Black Artists and Abstraction, 1964–1980 (2006, The Studio Museum in Harlem), High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting, 1967–1975 (2006, Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro), WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution (2007, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), Target Practice: Painting Under Attack, 1949–1978 (2009, Seattle Art Museum), Black in the Abstract: Part I, Epistrophy (2013, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston), and Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age, (2015–2016, Museum Brandhorst; 2016, Museum Moderner Kunst).

Pindell’s work is in the permanent collections of major museums internationally, including: the Brooklyn Museum; the Corcoran Gallery of Art; the Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Studio Museum in Harlem; the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Whitney Museum of American Art; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven.

 

Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Tennis, 1975

Howardena Pindell, War: Torture (El Salvador), 1988

Howardena Pindell, War: The L Word (George Bush), 1988

Howardena Pindell, War: Starvation (Sudan #1), 1988

Howardena Pindell, War: Cambodia (Over 5 Million Killed), 1988

Howardena Pindell, War: A Thousand Points of Light (White Phosphorus), 1988

Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Baseball, 2007

Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Boxing, 2007

Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Football, 2007

Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Rodeo, 2007

Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Tennis, 1975

Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Track, 2007

Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Baseball, 1976

Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Baseball, 1976

Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Abstract (Eel and Coral), 1976

Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Abstract (Eel and Coral), 1976

Howardena Pindell, Video Drawings: Baseball, 1975

Afterimage, Vol. 46, Number 2

Exhibition Review: Andrew Norman Wilson: Kodak

Andrew Norman Wilson: Kodak. Document. Chicago, Illinois: January 11–February 23, 2019| By Liz Park

Image 1. Still from Kodak (2018) by Andrew Norman Wilson; © 2018 Andrew Norman Wilson; courtesy the artist and DOCUMENT.

 

Andrew Norman Wilson’s thirty-two-minute video Kodak (2018) was the beating heart of his eponymous exhibition at DOCUMENT in Chicago. A series of prints that take inspiration from various Kodak products hung in an adjacent gallery while a stack of giveaway posters—of the company’s first digital camera from 1973 printed on recto and a text by Nick Irvin on verso—prepared those who entered a dark, curtained gallery. Irvin’s text introduced the video’s protagonist Rich as a mentally unstable former Kodak employee who became blind as a result of a workplace accident. These details emerge slowly, however, and in short bursts, like flickers of images that stitch together the stories of the character Rich and Kodak’s legendary founder George Eastman [Image 1].

“Your time is up,” alerts the high-pitched and tinny voice of a woman, beginning a narrative that is driven primarily by sound rather than images. A long minute passes with only darkness to accompany her increasingly aggravated chastising, dramatically peaking with “You have to stop now!” The first discernable image finally surfaces—a portrait of a bespectacled Eastman. A shaky voice that stands in for Eastman implores, “What is a photograph?” He answers himself: “. . . a dream, a reminder of how little you can actually capture.” Responsible for popularizing photography through consumer-grade technology, Eastman, as recorded in history and presented in this well-researched video, successfully tapped into the consumer’s desire to hold onto the fleeting moments of their mortal lives. Spiked with nostalgia, Eastman’s steady ruminations on life, photographic processes, and his business empire provide […]

Read the complete article here.

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Aron Gent
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DOCUMENT is a commercial gallery located in Chicago that specializes in contemporary photography, film and media based art. The gallery has organized more than 40 solo exhibitions since its opening in 2011 and actively promotes the work of emerging national and international artists. Operating conjointly as a professional printmaking studio, DOCUMENT facilitates the production of works by artists from Chicago and the US. At this time we do not accept unsolicited submissions.