Extended Family Contemporary Connections
In the face of the social upheaval of the past few decades, the family has remained territory that is routinely explored in art. The intergenerational selection of work on view here demonstrates that familial relationships continue to provide a rich source of artistic material, while the concept of the family has also been extended beyond blood ties to embrace larger groups or communities united by shared values, identities, lifestyles, or emotional needs. The artists express fluid definitions of the family and domesticity, drawing on experiences that are private and public, individual and communal. As members of a community that is both homegrown and globetrotting, many of the artists in this installation also transcend national boundaries, representing a new twenty-first-century breed that travels to create work in cities around the world.
Extended Family: Contemporary Connections highlights recent acquisitions and presents them alongside notable works that entered the collection over the past five decades. The Museum’s contemporary collecting focuses on art of the twentyfirst century, which has seen the rise of Brooklyn as one of the most vibrant centers of cultural production in the world. Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Dumbo—now established artists’ enclaves—have given way to Red Hook, Bed-Stuy, the Gowanus Canal, and Bushwick as frontiers that offer artists prospects for affordable studio spaces. The Brooklyn Museum has collected contemporary art since the midnineteenth century. Extended Family demonstrates the Museum’s continuing commitment to living artists and to collecting distinctive art of our time.
John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art
Associate Curator of Photography
July 31, 2009:
A new installation of contemporary art presents recent acquisitions displayed along with notable works that have entered the collection over the past five decades. The recent acquisitions range from younger artists such as Nina Chanel Abney, Shinique Smith, and Isca Greenfield-Sanders to more established figures such as Mary Heilman, Mitch Epstein, and Lorraine O’Grady. The presentation focuses on familial relationships, broadening the definition of family to include larger groups or communities united by shared values, identities, lifestyles, or emotional needs. Extended Family: Contemporary Connections, now on view through summer of 2010, includes some forty works.
The intergenerational selection of works on view demonstrates that familial relationships endure as a rich source of inspiration. Each of the artists expresses fluid definitions of the family and domesticity, drawing on experiences that are private and public as well as individual and communal.
The presentation is co-organized by Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art, and Patrick Amsellem, Associate Curator, Photography, at the Brooklyn Museum.
Included in Extended Family are Nick Cave’s Soundsuit (2008), a mixed-media piece that transforms the human body into a still life ornamented with scavenged materials, referencing a range of rituals from African dances to Christian liturgy. In the portfolio Samar Hussein (2003-9), artist Vera Lutter commemorates the civilian deaths in the war in Iraq since the American invasion through images of a hibiscus flower’s life cycle. Forbidden Fruit (2009), a painting by Jersey City-based artist Nina Chanel Abney that is part of a series of works drawing inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, alludes to the chapter featuring a hookah-puffing caterpillar. Reception (2009), a complex installation by Vadis Turner, and The Couple (2003), an aluminum sculpture by Louise Bourgeois, make their debuts in Extended Families. Several recent, self referential photographs by the late Dash Snow are also included.
Among the other artists represented are Ghada Amer, Polly Apfelbaum, Tara Donovan, Mona Hatoum, Glenn Ligon, Joe Overstreet, Hellen van Meene, Michelangelo Pisoletto, and Andres Serrano. A few of the works were on view in the previous installation, among them Fred Wilson’s Grey Area(Brown Version) (1993), and Mickalene Thomas’s A Little Taste Outside of Love (2007), but the vast percentage of works are new to this presentation.
The generous support of the John and Barbara Vogelstein Contemporary Acquisitions Challenge has made possible many recent additions to the collection featured in Extended Family: Contemporary Connections.
The creation of the new contemporary galleries was made possible, in part, through support provided by the New York City Council through the efforts of Council Member Bill de Blasio.