Jan 29th 2011

Further solidifying Nutt’s stature as an internationally significant artist, Jim Nutt: Coming Into Character provides an excellent opportunity to expand the artistic framework in which to consider his work beyond Chicago’s Hairy Who. While Coming Into Character offers a focused look at Nutt’s portrait busts of the last twenty years, revealing precedents in Nutt’s early works, this companion exhibition takes a much broader approach, delving into the rich and varied visual and cultural universe that has informed Nutt’s work and that of his peers. The exhibition also includes work by a younger generation of artists, such as Carroll Dunham, Mike Kelley, Eric Lebofsky, and Sue Williams, who have been directly inspired by Nutt.

Based on the MCA Collection, and augmented with loans from private collections, Seeing Is a Kind of Thinking includes work by more than 50 contemporary artists that resonates—either formally or through its subject matter—with aspects of Nutt’s work. The exhibition is organized into four thematic sections that examine how artists look to comics, folk art and non-Western art as source material; representations of surrealist psycho-sexual dramas; the traditional portrait bust genre; and an architectural approach to materials that oscillates between 2-D drawings and 3-D forms.

Nutt’s voracious appetite for art history, surrealism, non-Western artifacts, baroque opera, new wave cinema, and comics provides the inspiration for the exhibition’s dense hanging. The result is a visual encyclopedia that suggests sources beyond contemporary art to show how artists today use all manner of visual and cultural material for inspiration, and in dialogue with other forms, to create their own dynamic visual language.

Artists represented in the exhibition include: Gertrude Abercrombie, Tomma Abts, Nicholas Africano, Kai Althoff, Jean Arp, Francis Bacon, Enrico Baj, Don Baum, Hans Bellmer, Victor Brauner, George Condo, William Copley, Aaron Curry, Carroll Dunham, Jean Dubuffet, Oyvind Fahlstrom, Tony Fitzpatrick, Leon Golub, Miyoko Ito, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Wilfredo Lam, Eric Lebofsky, Fernand Leger, Richard Lindner, Robert Lostutter, Jim Lutes, Rene Magritte, Margarita Manzelli, Kerry James Marshall, Matta, Wangechi Mutu, Bruce Nauman, Rachel Niffenegger, Gladys Nilsson, Paul Nudd, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Lari Pittman, Kerig Pope, Christina Ramberg, Martin Ramirez, Richard Rezac, Suellen Rocca, Kay Rosen, Peter Saul, Diane Simpson, Steven Urry, Chris Ware, H. C. Westermann, Frances Whitehead, Sue Williams, Scott Wilson, Joseph Yoakum, Ray Yoshida, and Claire Zeisler.

The exhibition is curated by Julie Rodrigues Widholm, MCA Pamela Alper Associate Curator.

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