There it is. I have shown it to you. It has been done. It is being done. And because it can be done, it will be done.
—Kirk Varnedoe, Pictures of Nothing
“The show is over.” Or is it? This exhibition is about abstraction and the end of painting, often proposed but never concluded. Christopher Wool’s statement in paintings, drawings, and billboards, taken from Vasily Rozanov’s nineteenth-century definition of nihilism, contains sufficient irony to suggest that painting itself, the spectacle that surrounds it, and the ultimate questions it poses about life and death, are never quite over.
The negation of painting emerged in Europe after World War II in Francis Picabia’s last paintings, Lucio Fontana’s punctured and slashed Concetto spaziale paintings, Yves Klein’s Fire-Color works, and Piero Manzoni’s quest for neutral materiality in the Achromes. When first exhibited in 1953, Robert Rauschenberg’s White Paintings—monochromatic panel paintings—were unprecedented in their deceptive blankness. These works anticipated diverse interpretations of the neutral picture plane. Gerhard Richter’s paintings of the 1970s, in shades of gray, project a removed, indifferent power. Richard Serra’s Left Corner Horizontal (1977), a dense black expanse of oilstick on linen, produces a physical and spatial void that appears impenetrable.
A shared spirit of negation is evident in the anarchic actions that fueled the urban punk movement, epitomized by Steven Parrino’s physical attacks on the canvas and Kim Gordon’s evanescent wreaths. In Parrino’s Untitled (1992), the anarchist symbol is sprayed in black engine enamel on white vellum. Ed Ruscha’s hermetic painted wordplay reaches cinematic finality with The End paintings, begun in the early 1980s. The silhouettes of Hourglass #4 (1987) and End (1993) are set against gray-spectrum horizons that evoke transitions of time and space.
Seeking new ways to negate or efface the picture plane, artists such as Douglas Gordon, Mark Grotjahn, Wade Guyton, Adam McEwen, Albert Oehlen, Richard Prince, and Rudolf Stingel represent sustained challenges to the limits of painting, both real and imagined.
The Show Iis Over continues the thread of Gagosian exhibitions such as Imageless Icons: Abstract Thoughts (2005); Crash (2010); and Malevich and the American Legacy (2011), which trace art-historical themes from the advent of modernism to the present.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Malcolm Bull.
The exhibition includes works by Dan Colen, Willem de Kooning, Jeff Elrod, Lucio Fontana, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Douglas Gordon, Kim Gordon, Mark Grotjahn, Wade Guyton, Gregor Hildebrandt, Neil Jenney, Mike Kelley, Yves Klein, Roy Lichtenstein, Nate Lowman, Piero Manzoni, Brice Marden, Adam McEwen, Albert Oehlen, Steven Parrino, Francis Picabia, Sigmar Polke, Richard Prince, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha, Robert Ryman, Richard Serra, Frank Stella, Rudolf Stingel, Blair Thurman, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Christopher Wool, and Richard Wright.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2021
The Spring 2021 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Gerhard Richter’s Helen (1963) on its cover.
Gerhard Richter: Young Gerd
Richard Calvocoressi reflects on the monochrome world of Gerhard Richter’s early photo paintings.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2020
The Winter 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Jenny Saville’s Prism (2020) on its cover.
The Art History of Presidential Campaign Posters
Against the backdrop of the 2020 US presidential election, historian Hal Wert takes us through the artistic and political evolution of American campaign posters, from their origin in 1844 to the present. In an interview with Quarterly editor Gillian Jakab, Wert highlights an array of landmark posters and the artists who made them.
Lauren Mahony and Michael Tcheyan pay homage to the founder of the New York Studio School.
The Generative Surface
Eileen Costello explores the oft-overlooked importance of paper choice to the mediums of drawing and printmaking, from the Renaissance through the present day.