JULY 22-OCTOBER 8, 2000

For more than 70 years, the Walker has sought to represent the diversity and vitality of the art of our time. Today, this focus places the museum among the top institutions in the country collecting contemporary art from the last half-century and into the future. Many of the works added to its holdings each year join old favorites in the permanent collection galleries, an exhibition that rotates regularly. Still other acquisitions are seen in focused exhibitions that examine artistic movements, specific themes, or individual artists' careers. But how does the collection take shape? How does the Walker--an art center in which film, video, performing arts, and new media coexist comfortably with the visual arts--reflect its multidisciplinary nature in its collecting practices?

Chris Ofili

State of the Art: Recent Gifts and Acquisitions examines ways that an institution collects, why works are acquired, and how these choices affect the stories being told about contemporary art. Among the diverse media on view are photographs by Jeff Wall, Catherine Opie, Doug Aitken, Andreas Gursky, and Twin Cities-based Anne George and Stevie Rexroth, among many others. Prints and drawings are represented in the exhibition with pieces by such artists as Kiki Smith; Henry Darger, a little-known, self-taught artist who worked in the 1940s; and Kara Walker, the youngest-ever recipient of the prestigious MacArthur fellowship for her arresting images addressing issues of race and history. Sculptures by Katharina Fritsch, Gary Simmons, and Matthew McCaslin feature inventive uses of materials and scale. Evocative works on canvas by artists such as Glenn Ligon, Chris Ofili, and Udomsak Krisanamis demonstrate that painting is alive and well in the 21st century.

As an institution with an increasingly global and multidisciplinary focus to its collection, the Walker also aims to acquire pieces by artists who represent a diversity of aesthetics and experience, and whose work crosses boundaries between artistic practices. On view are sculptures by U.K.-based Yinka Shonibare made with "African-style" fabrics alluding to the complicated colonial histories that connect his native Nigeria with Indonesia and the United Kingdom; woodblock prints by Kerry James Marshall made from his sculptures carrying slogans from the Civil Rights and Black Power movements; and a new film installation by Shirin Neshat that addresses the struggles and triumphs of life in her native Iran.

Katharina Fritsch

The Walker makes it a priority to build its collection through strong relationships with artists. This often leads to significantly in-depth holdings of works representing the breadth of an individual's career. A number of those included in this exhibition, such as Chuck Close, Jasper Johns, and Ellsworth Kelly, have had their artwork in various media collected by the Walker since the early stages of their careers. The museum also demonstrates its support for living artists by commissioning new pieces. A large-scale photograph by Chicago-based Dawoud Bey was made as part of his 1995 Walker residency. This commitment to artists often insures that the work seen in the galleries is representative of current issues and discussions, such as the painting by Chris Ofili (who made his U.S. museum debut in the Walker's 1995 exhibition "Brilliant!" New Art from London), a young, U.K.-based artist at the center of the controversy around Sensation, a show mounted this past year at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York.

The expanding and changing nature of the collection guarantees that the Walker will continue to be a vibrant and exciting place to view contemporary art. The selections in the exhibition, chosen from the more than 900 works acquired by the museum since 1995, present a view of a collection that is constantly reinventing itself, building on its strengths, and watching for new possibilities.


The Walker teams up with Mixed Blood Theater to bring you an imaginative day filled with staged wonders and storytelling.