2016 Suzanne McClelland
Articulate Muscle 1976
March 2 – April 23, 2016
Dieu Donné is proud to present an exhibition of new works in handmade paper and a video by Suzanne McClelland. Featuring works created during the artist’s Lab Grant Program residency, the exhibition will be on view in the Dieu Donné gallery from March 3 through April 9, 2016. There will be an opening reception on Thursday, March 10th from 6-8 pm, during which the artist will be present. A Lab Grant Publication accompanies the exhibition featuring an essay by curator and writer Claire Barliant.
Suzanne McClelland is drawn to language and semiotics. Since the early 1990s her paintings, drawings, videos and installations have utilized fragments of text and data drawn from a wide variety of political and cultural sources. McClelland’s interest lies in exploring subjective response to information. As Barliant writes in her engaging catalogue essay, McClelland “has a knack for arranging and putting unlike items together in a way that reveals not only how things may be connected, but the way in which we might perceive that things are connected, when in fact they are not.”
McClelland’s energetic thought process and wide-ranging subject matter are evident in the works made during her Dieu Donné residency. The video Governor (Articulate Muscle 1976) – created from a series of dissolving still images of the Artist’s paper works – references a performance and panel discussion held at the Whitney Museum of Art led by Vicki Goldberg. Performers Arnold Schwarzenegger and fellow bodybuilders Frank Zane and Ed Corney posed on a rotating table, while a panel of art critics discussed their performance as artists living inside their own creations. In recent correspondence with Ed Corney, the Artist learned that what seems like a lack of athletic “action” is in fact not the case, but that the bodybuilders focus on striking various still poses that accentuate muscular body structures, and they develop unique styles for transitioning between postures.
The unique paper works that comprise In the Black and Bad Math are installed on a low platform toned with traditional trophy colors: gold, silver and bronze. In the Black includes fragments of numerical and verbal descriptions of the bodybuilder’s physique. Bad Math began as a response to current inclinations in American culture to rank, rate and evaluate performance with data. The 1967 Sigmar Polke painting Solutions V (which the Artist recalls from the 1991 Brooklyn Museum exhibition "Sigmar Polke") was important to the themes in this work as it points to the absurdity of quantitative information. The two series artfully play off each other and in McClelland’s hands these seemingly disparate sources collide.
In the studio McClelland utilized the capriciousness of the wet papermaking process by dropping and tossing fragments of text and cut paper forms into the wet sheets of fresh pulp. She credits her work in the Dieu Donné studio as allowing her to abandon the traditional process of collage (usually requiring careful arrangement) and treat the works as assemblage allowing for “chance” to contribute. Collaborating with Amy Jacobs in the Dieu Donné studio, the Artist reflected on the process, “I have always used gravity to make paintings; but with pulp, the surface remains seamless and it feels like gravity and especially compression has impact on the final form. The ‘drop’ creates the form that appears to float with printed images and text…once it falls in–it’s finished”.
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Exhibiting internationally since the early 1990s, Suzanne McClelland’s practice includes both large-scale paintings and works on paper, often extracting fragments of speech or text from various political and cultural sources and exploring the symbolic and material possibilities that reside within language. McClelland lives and works in Brooklyn, and is represented by team (gallery, inc.), New York and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Her work can be found in the collections of Museum of Modern Art, NY, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Saatchi Gallery, London, Rubell Family Collection and The Margulies Collection in Miami. In 2016 team (gallery,inc.) will release a monograph “Suzanne McClelland: 36-24-36” with an essay by Thierry de Duve, distributed by D.A.P. The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT. will open a solo exhibition in March 2017, curated by Amy Smith Stewart.