OCTOBER 9, 1999-JANUARY 2, 2000
2000 BC: THE BRUCE CONNER STORY PART II
GALLERIES 1, 2, AND 3
For the past four decades, Bruce Conner's work has defied easy categorization. Last seen at the Walker as part of the exhibition Beat Culture and the New America: 1950-1965, he is perhaps best known for his landmark assemblages and kinetic, short films of the 1950s and 1960s. But Conner has also done extraordinary work in painting, drawing, sculpture, collage, printmaking, and photography. Today Conner is recognized as one of the most influential artists of his generation.
2000 BC: THE BRUCE CONNER STORY PART II presents some 150 works in a broad range of media to provide a much-needed introduction to the variety of work by this prolific artist. However, it is not a retrospective. As the exhibition title suggests, there are many other parts to the Bruce Conner story, as yet untold. This one places special emphasis on his filmmaking and his exploration of the physical, metaphorical, and metaphysical properties of light and dark.
Born in Kansas and later associated with the 1950s renaissance of poetry and visual art in San Francisco, Conner first attracted public attention with his moody nylon-shrouded assemblages--complex sculptures of such found objects as women's stockings, costume jewelry, bicycle wheels, and broken dolls, often combined with collaged or painted surfaces. Erotically charged and tinged with echoes of both the Surrealist tradition and San Francisco's Victorian past, his assemblages--such as RATBASTARD (1958) and THE BRIDE (1960)--resonate with themes of beauty, death, and the loss of innocence and established him as one of the leading figures in the international assemblage "movement."
After a yearlong sojourn in Mexico, Conner returned to California and became an active force of the 1960s San Francisco counterculture. Included in this exhibition are examples of his intricate black-and-white mandala drawings as well as his elaborate collages made from scraps of 19th-century engravings, which remain icons of the period's sensory-based spirituality. During the 1970s, Conner focused on drawing and photography, producing the dramatic, life-sized photograms from the ANGELS series (1973-1975) as well as intimately scaled inkblot drawings such as DREAM TIME IN TOTEM LAND (1975). In recent years, the artist has continued to work on a small scale, producing collages and inkblot drawings that sustain an original sensibility with a refreshing new perspective.
If Conner's assemblages probed beneath the turbulent 1950s and 1960s, then his films from the same period further revealed the roots of this troubled American psyche. In 1958 he began making short movies in a style that established him as one of the most important figures in postwar independent filmmaking. His innovative technique can be best seen in his first film, A MOVIE (1958), an editing tour-de-force made entirely by piecing together scraps of B-movie condensations, newsreels, novelty shorts, and other pre-existing footage. His subsequent films are most often fast-paced collages of found and new footage, and he was among the first to use pop music for film sound tracks. Conner's films have inspired generations of filmmakers and are now considered to be the precursors of the music video genre.
Five films are screened continuously in the galleries, including A MOVIE (1958) and the exuberant BREAKAWAY (1966 ); his dynamic short film, LOOKING FOR MUSHROOMS (1959-1967), will be viewable on a Moviscop that visitors may operate themselves. In addition to the films presented in the exhibition, a special cinematheque in the Walker's Information Room presents regular screenings of six other Conner films, including VIVIAN (1964), MONGOLOID (1978), VALSE TRISTE (1978), and AMERICA IS WAITING (1981).
BRUCE CONNER CINEMATHEQUE
PREVIEW PARTY/WALKER AFTER HOURS
PACKAGE: PANEL DISCUSSION/ARTIST LECTURE-SCREENING
LECTURE: BEAT AND THE SPIRITUAL QUEST
THE WALKER SHOPS
WALKER ART CENTER
OCTOBER 9, 1999-JANUARY 2, 2000
MODERN ART MUSEUM OF FORT WORTH
FEBRUARY 6-APRIL 23, 2000
M. H. DE YOUNG MEMORIAL MUSEUM, SAN FRANCISCO
MAY 21-JULY 30, 2000
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, LOS ANGELES
OCTOBER 1, 2000-JANUARY 14, 2001
2000 BC: THE BRUCE CONNER STORY PART II IS MADE
POSSIBLE BY GENEROUS SUPPORT FROM ANN HATCH, LANNAN FOUNDATION, THE ANDY
WARHOL FOUNDATION FOR THE VISUAL ARTS, ANN AND BARRIE BIRKS, AND THE RENE
AND VERONICA DI ROSA FOUNDATION. THE EXHIBITION CATALOGUE IS MADE POSSIBLE
IN PART BY THE RICHARD FLORSHEIM ART FUND, PAULA Z. KIRKEBY, KOHN TURNER
GALLERY, LOS ANGELES, CURT MARCUS GALLERY, NEW YORK, AND GALLERY PAULE
ANGLIM, SAN FRANCISCO.