OCTOBER 9, 1999-JANUARY 2, 2000
2000 BC: THE BRUCE CONNER STORY PART II
Exhibition
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).




RELATED EVENTS

BRUCE CONNER CINEMATHEQUE
DAILY SCREENINGS AT 2 PM; THURSDAYS 2 AND 6 PM
INFORMATION ROOM
Six of the artist's films will be screened daily, including VIVIAN (1964), MONGOLOID (1978), VALSE TRISTE (1978), and AMERICA IS WAITING (1981).

LECTURE-SCREENING WITH PHIL HARDER
THE PROTO-MTV OF BRUCE CONNER
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9, 7 PM
Cinematographer-director Phil Harder examines how Conner's experimental film work laid the groundwork for the music-video genre.


NOVEMBER EVENTS

GALLERY TALK
GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!: A VERY SUBJECTIVE LOOK AT THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING FEMALE IN BRUCE CONNER'S WORK
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 6:30 PM
Conner's work of the 1950s and 1960s not only pays homage to the important women in his life, but astutely critiques the degraded social and political status of American women at mid-century.

OCTOBER EVENTS

EXHIBITION PREVIEW PARTY/WALKER AFTER HOURS
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8, 9 PM-12:30 AM
Walker After Hours hosts the opening-night preview party for a rare exhibition of works by California-based artist-filmmaker Bruce Conner.

PANEL DISCUSSION
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 9, 4 PM
This opening-day panel discussion reveals an extraordinary picture of the artistic and cultural milieu that shaped Conner's prolific art practice.

ARTIST LECTURE-SCREENING
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1 PM
As part of the opening-weekend celebration, Conner gives a lecture followed by a screening of rarely seen films from his own archive.

OPENING-WEEKEND EVENTS PACKAGE: PANEL DISCUSSION/ARTIST LECTURE-SCREENING
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, OCTOBER 9 AND 10
$10 ($5 WALKER MEMBERS AND STUDENTS)
Attend both opening-weekend events for reduced-price admission.

MACK LECTURE: BEAT AND THE SPIRITUAL QUEST
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24, 3 PM
Poet Joanne Kyger talks about the pursuit of spiritual meaning, an important part of the Beats' artistic process.

PUBLIC TOUR
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2 PM
Take a tour of the Walker's newest exhibition. Meet in the lobby.

IN THE WALKER SHOPS
In conjunction with 2000 BC: THE BRUCE CONNER STORY PART II, the Walker has published the most comprehensive catalogue to date on the artist's work, a 280-page volume featuring essays by exhibition co-curators Peter Boswell, Bruce Jenkins, and Joan Rothfuss. All works in the exhibition are illustrated, many in full color. The book includes a bibliography, filmography, and exhibition history that were developed out of extensive primary research in Conner's files. Available in the Walker Art Center Shops. Hardcover: $59.95 ($44.96 Walker members); softcover: $35 ($26.25 Walker members).

TOUR SCHEDULE:

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.

RESTORATION AND PRESERVATION COSTS FOR BREAKAWAY PROVIDED BY THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE FILM PRESERVATION CHALLENGE GRANT.