Closer to Life, Hessel Museum of Art
Closer to Life: Drawings and Works on Paper in the Marieluise Hessel Collection. Curated by Tom Eccles and Amy Zion. Photos: Olympia Shannon.
Closer to Life: Drawings and Works on Paper in the Marieluise Hessel Collection was an exhibition I co-curated with Tom Eccles in the CCS Bard Galleries, June 26–October 17, 2021.
Closer to Life is an exhibition of contemporary drawing and works on paper from the collection of Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College Co-Founder Marieluise Hessel, who dedicated her entire growing collection to the college for study. Tracing the ways in which drawing is used by contemporary artists for its immediacy and its ability to communicate a range of pressing subject matter, the exhibition tracks four decades of collecting across three countries. The works on view echo the sense of intimacy inherent in the exhibition title in the issues that they confront, and speak to the continuing vitality of works on paper as an artistic medium connected to the sphere of everyday life.
Alongside the broader exploration of contemporary drawing, the exhibition represents the collection’s range and eclecticism through the inclusion of collages, prints, artist books, and special editions drawn from the Center for Curatorial Studies’ extensive archives as well as a select number of paintings, photographs, and sculptures. Together, these works trace the evolution of the collection through Hessel’s personal journey as a collector. As such, the galleries are organized around four spheres of influence that reflect the geographic trajectory of Hessel’s life, from post-war Germany to her residence in Mexico City and on to New York City during the ’80s and ’90s. The exhibition puts specific emphasis on Hessel’s most recent acquisitions and how they fit into the continuum of her decades-long commitment to collecting.
Closer to Life is curated by Tom Eccles and Amy Zion to mark the 30th anniversary of the graduate program, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue of more than 300 works on paper from the Marieluise Hessel Collection.
Exhibition artists include: Kai Althoff, Deborah Barrett, Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Cecily Brown, Nick Cave, William Copley, Nicole Eisenman, General Idea, Isa Genzken, Robert Gober, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Rachel Harrison, Jörg Immendorff, Clotilde Jiménez, Rashid Johnson, Ray Johnson, Anselm Kiefer, Seydou Keïta, Martin Kippenberger, Imi Knoebel, David Koloane, Robert Kushner, Maria Lassnig, Charles LeDray, Sol LeWitt, Robert Longo, Carlos Mérida, Dan Miller, Ulrike Müller, Matt Mullican, Cady Noland, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Gabriel Orozco, Giuseppe Penone, Sigmar Polke, Arnulf Rainer, Gerhard Richter, Allen Ruppersberg, Peter Saul, Thomas Schütte, Hollis Sigler, Diane Simpson, Lorna Simpson, Sable Elyse Smith, Nancy Spero, Rosemarie Trockel, Germán Venegas, Danh Vo, Kara Walker, Franz Erhard Walther, David Wojnarowicz, and Nahum B. Zenil.
The exhibition also includes selections from the limited edition ACT-UP Art Box (1993-94), Artifacts at the End of a Decade (1981), and Your House is Mine (by Bullet Space (1989-1991)), as well as select issues from Dieter Roth’s *Gesammelte Werke, Johannes Cladders’ Städtisches Museum Mönchengladbach series, William Copley’s S.M.S., Hanuman Books, Interview magazine, Art Information Of, and On the Blackness of BLACKNUSS by Moor’s Head Press (2016).