THE ART OF COLLABORATION

      

Venus Over Manhattan presents The Art of Collaboration, an exhibition dedicated to collaboratively produced works of art. Comprising a tightly focused selection of major collaborations, the exhibition will be on view from September 17th through October 27th, 2018. The Art of Collaboration marks the first exhibition dedicated to artistic collaboration in nearly thirty years, following Cynthia Jaffee McCabe’s ARTISTIC COLLABORATION IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 1984, and Nina Castelli Sundell and Susan Sollins’ TEAM SPIRIT in 1991.

The Art of Collaboration highlights a specific type of collaboratively produced art. Featuring work in nearly all media, the exhibition gathers collaborations by artists who maintain independent practices, and elect to collaborate beyond the scope of their individual productions. Variously describing personal connections, artistic affinities and conceptual attachments, many of the works on view testify to powerful relationships; others register the dynamics of influence, or complicate the notion of an artist’s signature style. Others still provide an arena in which to question authorship, or parse responsibility for a given gesture. Taken together, the presentation confirms the persistent presence of collaboration in modern and contemporary art, despite an artistic economy predicated on self-expression.

The presentation demonstrates a wide range of reasons that drive artists to collaborate, featuring the products of friendship, romance, marriage, physical proximity, shared gallery representation, or specific requests for individual exhibitions. A large-format work on canvas by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol represents a group of collaborative works produced at the suggestion of Swiss gallerist Bruno Bischofberger, and registers each artist’s trademark imagery. A group of works by artists including Basquiat, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Fab 5 Freddy documents a period of intense collaborative energy in New York City, when artists associated with Neo-Expressionism and Street Art spontaneously riffed on one another’s works and surfaces. A photograph of a dress printed with Christopher Wool’s signature wallpaper pattern records a collaborative exhibition with Robert Gober at 303 Gallery in 1988, born of Wool’s admiration for Gober’s work. A multipartite installation by Ed Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz, featuring a life-sized representation of a husband and wife, attests to the energy of a long-term partnership in both marriage and art.

Despite uneven attention for such efforts, visual artists have collaborated with varying degrees of intensity throughout the history of art: the workshop model, in which an artist oversees a studio of assistants, was popularized during the Renaissance, and witnessed a rebirth of sorts at Andy Warhol’s Factory. Collaboration became far more common in the twentieth century, which saw artists associated with Dada, Surrealism, and the Cobra group produce collaborative works. Examples of sustained collaboration emerged in the second half of the twentieth century, first as a consequence of married artists jointly signing their work, then as a strategy employed by artists partnering in long-term production. Such partnerships are increasingly common, but collaborations between artists who maintain independent practices remain relatively infrequent. In spite of recognition from both critics and collectors that Western art has always been in certain respects, a collaborative endeavor, the cult of the individual retains a strong foothold in the visual arts. Indeed, the “traditional conception of the artist as an autonomous agent” remains an effective barrier to the production and acceptance of collaboratively produced art.

The exhibition will feature collaboratively produced works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol; Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring; Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Fab 5 Freddy, Futura, Eric Haze, LA II, Tseng Kwong Chi, Kenny Scharf, and others; John Currin and Rachel Feinstein; Robert Gober and Christopher Wool; Mark Grotjahn and Jonas Wood; Keith Haring and LA II; Richard Hell and Christopher Wool; Ed Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz; Jonathan Meese and Albert Oehlen; Tim Noble and Sue Webster; Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen; and Anselm Reyle and Franz West, among others.

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