Friday, November 5, 2010

Petah Coyne: Everthing That Rises Must Converge

Through May 1 2011
Curated by Denise Markonish

Petah Coyne, Untitled #1240 (Black Cloud), 2007–2008, taxidermy birds, silk flowers, silk/rayon velvet, plaster statuary, feathers, wax, cables, cable nuts, paint, plaster, metal, felt, pearl-headed hat pins, pigment, thread, wood, vinyl, dimensions variable. Untitled # 1240 (Black Cloud) courtesy the artist and Galerie Lelong, NY

Unlike many contemporary artists who focus on social or media-related issues, Petah Coyne imbues her work with a magical quality to evoke intensely personal associations. Her sculptures convey an inherent tension between vulnerability and aggression, innocence and seduction, beauty and decadence, and, ultimately, life and death. Coyne's work seems Victorian in its combination of an overloaded refinement with a distinctly decadent and morbid undercurrent. Her innovative use of materials includes dead fish, mud, sticks, black sand, old car parts, wax, satin ribbons, artificial flowers and birds, birdcages, and most recently, taxidermy animals, Madonna statues, and horsehair.

A selection of Coyne's recent work along with two new works are on view at MASS MoCA. Viewers are transported when entering the galleries, baroque works delicately combining taxidermy birds and dripping with wax rise up from the floor and chandelier-type sculptures descend from the ceiling, taking full advantage of the multiple vantage point of MASS MoCA's triple height gallery space. This exhibition particularly focuses on works from the last 10 years including selections from Coyne's series based on Dante's Inferno, such as Untitled #1180 (Beatrice) which transforms Dante's love into a monumental sculpture of black wax covered flowers with the most subtle color breaking through, velvet and various taxidermy birds diving in and out of the towering form. Galleries filled with white wax sculptures are adjacent to the black works -- these pale, ghostly images call forth Victorian lace and at the same time the frailty of life. Some of Coyne's ghostly photographs featuring blurred figures of children and Buddhist monks are also on view.

Petah Coyne was born in Oklahoma City in 1953. She lives and works in New York and New Jersey. Solo exhibitions include Vermilion Fog at Galerie LeLong, NY; Petah Coyne: Above and Beneath the Skin at Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, AZ, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Petah Coyne: Hairworks Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH. Selected group exhibitions include Damaged Romanticism: A Mirror of Modern Emotion at the Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, Houston, TX, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, NY, the Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY; Uncontained, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; and Material Actions, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA. Coyne├»¿½s work is in the collections of the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY and many more.

This exhibition is made possible by the Toby D. Lewis Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, the Elizabeth A. Sackler Museum Educational Trust, Galerie Lelong, McBride & Associates Architects, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Additional support provided by Dennis Braddock and Janice Niemi, Carol and William Browne, Linda and Ronald F. Daitz, Pamela and Robert Goergen, Jane and Leonard Korman, Anita Laudone and Colin Harley, the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, Kari McCabe and Nate McBride, Kate and Hans Morris, Sam and Martha Peterson, Elizabeth Ryan, and Stone Ridge Orchard.

Images from the Brooklyn Museum Show -

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