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Against the Wall

Contemporary Art from the Collection

August 1, 2012 Through July 7, 2013

In the T. Marc Futter Gallery


John Ahearn (American, b. 1951), Thomas, 1983
Photo Credit: 

Laura Shea; Image courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York


Installation view
Photo Credit: 

Laura Shea


Thomas, 1983

John Ahearn (American, b. 1951)
Oil and cast polyadam

John Ahearn (American, b. 1951), Thomas, 1983

The contemporary relief sculptures brought together in this exhibition are of many descriptions. Though relief is probably not the first form that comes to mind when we think of contemporary art, it is actually quite prevalent. The challenges of directly engaging the vertical plane of the wall provide artists unique creative opportunities. Against the Wall explores some of the myriad ways artists have addressed the wall in furthering their ideas in three dimensions.

The sculptures are organized into four groups, though most could fit into multiple categories. Christopher Wilmarth, Bruce Robbins, and Loren Madsen work in dialogue with the vocabulary of architecture; Abe Ajay, Joseph Cornell, and Mary Ann Unger embrace a variety of abstract forms from geometric to organic; Kiki Smith and John Ahearn sculpt forms that directly evoke bodies; and Larry Rivers and Stuart Diamond create paintings that seem to have exploded out of their two-dimensional origins to become relief sculpture.

The selection is made primarily from the permanent collection with a few key loans to round out the range of approaches on display. It marks the beginning of our multi-year salute to the Museum’s permanent collection in honor of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum’s 135th anniversary in 2011.