Exhibitions: Work of Art: Abdi Farah

Abdi Farah: Libation

Abdi Farah. Libation (detail), 2010. Resin, mixed media, spray paint, two parts: 72 x 84 in. (182.9 x 213.4 cm) each. Courtesy of Magical Elves

August 14–October 17, 2010

This presentation spotlights Abdi Farah, the winner of Work of Art, a recently concluded creative competition among contemporary artists from across the United States for a cash prize and this exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. The competition aired weekly as a Bravo cable television series—a reality show, much like others that have pitted aspiring chefs or fashion designers against each other.

Though it may seem an unconventional presentation, contests such as Work of Art are not unfamiliar to art museums. In nineteenth-century France, the principal route to prominence for an artist was to enter his or (rarely) her work in a competition held every year or two at the Louvre. A jury of experts presided, selecting from thousands of submissions. Work of Art is a direct descendent of the juried-exhibition tradition. The judges for the Bravo show included art collector and series host China Chow; New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz; and gallerists Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Bill Powers. Art auctioneer Simon de Pury participated as mentor to the contestants, and a different guest judge joined the panel each week. The Brooklyn Museum’s John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art, Eugenie Tsai, advised in the final selection of the winner.

Luminous Bodies is the title that Mr. Farah gave to this exhibition when it initially appeared on the final episode of Work of Art. According to the artist, the title was inspired by a scene in the Star Wars movie The Empire Strikes Back in which the Jedi Master Yoda says to Luke Skywalker, “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” Produced over a period of three months, the figurative paintings, sculpture, and drawings on view reflect Mr. Farah’s investigation of the human body as a material entity that possesses the potential to transcend its physical being.

The exhibition Work of Art: Abdi Farah has been organized by the Brooklyn Museum in cooperation with Bravo, producers of the television series Work of Art: The Next Great Artist.



Abdi Farah discusses his work.