July 14, 2020
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The Gund Gallery’s fall exhibitions include 10 color lithographs by the 20th-century American painter, sculptor and photographer Cy Twombly, donated to the permanent collection this summer by Ann and Graham Gund ’63 H’81.
The suite of lithographs, “Natural History, Part 1, Mushrooms,” is the first Twombly artwork for the Gund Gallery’s collection, which focuses on art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Twombly’s suite complements the “Rookery Mounds” print suite by artist Robert Rauschenberg that the Gunds donated to the gallery a year ago.
“This particular series by Twombly was produced after he spent a month with Rauschenberg in his Florida studio,” said Gund Gallery Director Natalie Marsh. “Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Twomby influenced each other, as one can see in the methodology of collage and mark-making. But in this suite there’s also the carryover of both an absorption and rejection of postwar abstract expressionism interwoven with his conceptual fascination with history.”
Marsh said that makes the Twombly gift an ideal bridge for the other two exhibitions that opened August 24: the abstract paintings of Pia Fries and a look at independent and innovative publishing called “Publishing Against the Grain.”
Fries works in Germany and integrates silkscreened facsimiles of 17th-century Baroque and Mannerist prints with the rigor and emotional depth of abstract expressionism. Her paintings feature audacious color and thick pigment applied with brushes, spatulas and palette knives — a fusion of painting and printmaking.
“Publishing Against the Grain” features small journals, experimental publications, websites, radio and other innovative media forms that connect theoretical, social, political and aesthetic questions with a focus on community.
Marsh pointed to critic Roberta Smith’s 1987 observation that “Cy Twombly is a great painter, but sometimes it seems even more accurate to describe him as a great writer.” Twombly’s “Natural History, Part I, Mushrooms” features scientific illustrations of mushrooms with his recognizable visual language of notations, gestures and personal meditations, on and between collaged graph and tracing papers. The prints were produced in 1974 after one of his many visits to Rauschenberg’s home in Captiva Island, Florida.
“Twombly could never be fully pinned down to a single ‘-ism.’ He is one of the artists who is central to the story of 20th-century art,” Marsh said.
All three exhibitions continue through Dec. 16. They will have many connections to Kenyon classrooms and to community-wide events, such as workshops on how to produce “zines,” which are small-circulation self-published works that often include collage or cartoon styles.
In conjunction with “Publishing Against the Grain,” Wall Street Journal art critic Peter Plagens P’03 will join a panel on art writing Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in the Community Foundation Theater at the gallery. The panel will also include Sean O’Donnell, editor of the online arts publication ArtHopper in Cleveland, and Daniel Brown, editor of the online e-journal AEQAI from Cincinnati.
A fourth display, in the hallway of the Gund’s first floor, relates to the publishing exhibition in the main Buchwald-Wright Gallery. “School of the Americas Watch: Documents from Interference Archive” opened Sept. 4 and features pamphlets, posters and newspapers produced for the largest Latin American solidarity organization in the United States. In a talk on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Community Foundation Theater, María Luisa Rosal and Dévora González will discuss the group’s work on issues of migration and human rights.
Gund Gallery exhibitions and programs are made possible, in part, by the Gund Gallery Board of Directors and the Ohio Arts Council.