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New at the Tang

Posted: 03/26/2012

Among the current exhibitions at Skidmore’s Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery are three one-person shows featuring the provocative work of Nancy Grossman, Donald Moffett, and Pam Lins. Below is a profile of each artist.

Nancy Grossman

For over five decades, Nancy Grossman has created a powerful body of work that combines exquisite craftsmanship with a long-standing exploration of the nature of violence and power. Wide-ranging in style and genre, and often challenging in nature, Grossman’s work defies categorization and resists easy interpretation. Nearly half a century after her emergence on the New York art scene, she remains an important yet largely under-appreciated artist.

Undeservedly so, says the Tang’s Malloy Curator Ian Berry, who has collected her works from some of the world’s leading museums for Nancy Grossman: Tough Life Diary, which runs through May 20. The exhibition features a range of work including drawing, painting, collage, and sculpture.

Tough Life Diary is the title of one of Grossman’s collages but also an apt descriptor of her life and art. “Her work can be about the many ways we might define tough,” says Berry. “Her work is formally gorgeous, but its materiality and content often expose harder parts of our lives.” And, he adds, Grossman lets us see how tough the pieces are to make: “You see all the stitches, the nails. Nancy reveals all the handwork, all the hours.”

The Tang exhibition gathers works from the early 1960s through the 1990s in multiple media.

Undoubtedly her most famous works are the life-sized leather-covered heads Grossman began exhibiting in the late 1960s and continued to craft well into the early 1990s. “They are confronting objects,” says Berry. “People are uncomfortable with them because they seem to be in distress—they’re covered, bound, and gagged; they can’t see or speak. But another way to decipher them is to see how their leather skin protects them and keeps them safe from us.”

An interview with Grossman on the Tang website contextualizes the exhibition, weaving together archival film footage of the artist in her studio at age 25, an interview from 1994, the artist’s own family photos as well as a present-day interview with Grossman at her home in New York City, illustrating complexities in Grossman’s work that are often overlooked in simplified and sensationalistic interpretations of her art.



Donald Moffett

Vibrant abstract paintings and ethereal landscapes are among the works on view at the Tang in Donald Moffett: The Extravagant Vein, the first comprehensive survey of Moffett’s work,

Moffett creates paintings that extend the traditional two-dimensional frame, making highly textured relief works, paintings that are opened inside out, and intricate illuminations through the use of video projections on the canvas. While addressing social and political issues, Moffett’s paintings frequently reveal a sense of humor that both acknowledges the complexity of life and “pushes the boundaries of what we understand a painting to be,” says Tang Associate Curator Rachel Seligman, noting that the artist has said, ‘I complicate painting.’” According to John Weber, the Tang Museum’s Dayton Director, “When we talk about Donald Moffett’s work, we clearly need to talk about its politics. Yet we also need to recognize its visual beauty and elegance, its intelligence, and how Donald walks a fine line between austerity and indulgence in the creation of artistic form. We are thrilled to have this work at the Tang.”

Moffett has been a major player in the causes of his time and is widely respected in the national and international arts community. He arrived in New York City in the late 1970s, and when the AIDS crisis hit a few years later, he became a member of ACT UP and the AIDS activist collective Gran Fury.

Pam Lins

Brooklyn-based sculptor Pam Lins’ love of formal, modernist art combined with her madcap sensibility is on full view at the Tang in Opener 23, Pam Lins: Denver Gold.

The Opener Series introduces new artists to the Tang Museum’s audience. For Lins, whose work has been shown in galleries and group museum shows since the late 1990s, this is the first solo museum show with the first catalogue documenting her work.

For her Tang exhibition, Lins has transformed the museum’s mezzanine into a single environment combining previous and re-made works with new pieces on view for the first time. “It’s an eccentric combination of old and new,” says Tang Malloy Curator Ian Berry, who notes the artist’s particular strength in “creating installations and situations for her objects that play with architecture and space in interesting ways, like filling up a room so you are pushed to walk in and around her work.” Unlike many solo exhibitions that proceed chronologically through an artist’s work, the Tang installation will mix the old and new together in a dense “forest” that viewers explore from within.

The Tang

The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery is open noon–5 p.m., Tuesday–Sunday, closed on Mondays and major holidays, and open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays. For more information call 518-580-8080 or visit the Tang web site here.