Minneapolis, February 25, 2011—Dreams, fantasies, hallucinations, private visions, and meditations on the nature of reality have given rise to some of the most remarkable art of the past 150 years. From the transcendent, luminous paintings of Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko to the surreal multimedia works of contemporary artist Matthew Barney, the Walker Art Center exhibition Midnight Party offers a variety of highly subjective reflections on the world around us. On view March 19, 2011–February 23, 2014, the show will explore these very personal visions in a wide-ranging presentation of painting, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs, and films from the late 19th century to the present drawn primarily from the Walker’s collection.
To underscore the poetic quality of the pieces on view, the exhibition will not adhere to chronological or historical categories, but instead will be arranged in thematic groupings that create visual dialogues among works. For example, a selection of mid-20th century abstractions by Barnett Newman, Morris Louis, and Clyfford Still will be shown with Bruce Conner’s final film, EASTER MORNING (1966/2008), which probes the psychic space between matter and spirit. Kiki Smith’s domestic installation Kitchen (2005) will be adjacent to a group of Marsden Hartley’s eccentric still lifes from the 1910s to the 1940s, which seem to vibrate with repressed energy. Matthew Barney’s video installation Drawing Restraint 7 (1993) will anchor a section of works in which the artist poses as a grotesque or monstrous persona.
A special feature of Midnight Party will be a contemporary Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities. In this space viewers will find a plethora of works suggestive of specimens or collectibles, including Paul Thek’s vitrine of faux-hippopotamus flesh and a baking pan stuffed with phalluses by Yayoi Kusama. Within the Wunderkammer visitors can watch a rotating program of short films, beginning with a double feature of films by Guy Maddin and Georges Méliès; future programs will highlight work by Kenneth Anger, Luis Buñuel, Maya Deren, Abel Gance, and others. The exhibition also will include the Kabinett, an intimate space for viewing works on paper. Every three months a new exhibition will appear in the Kabinett, beginning with a show of historical prints by Expressionist and Symbolist artists.
More than 90 artists will be represented in the exhibition, including Lee Bontecou, , Bonnie Collura, Joseph Cornell, Thomas Demand, Willem de Kooning, Frank Gaard, Robert Gober, Grace Hartigan, Cameron Jamie, Guillermo Kuitca, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Sherrie Levine, Robert Mallary, Ana Mendieta, Robert Mapplethorpe, Joan Miró, Edvard Munch, Chris Ofili, Ed Paschke, Sigmar Polke, Susan Rothenberg, Ad Reinhardt, Cindy Sherman, Angela Strassheim, Jana Sterbak, Armando Tudela, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, and Hannah Wilke.
Guest curator Joan Rothfuss is an independent writer, curator, and educator based in Minneapolis. From 1988 to 2006 she was a curator at the Walker Art Center, where she managed the permanent collection and organized numerous exhibitions, including Joseph Beuys Multiples; 2000 B.C.: The Bruce Conner Story Part II; and In the Spirit of Fluxus. She has published widely on modern and contemporary art and is currently at work on a biography of the performing artist Charlotte Moorman, to be published by MIT Press in 2012.
Midnight Party is organized by the Walker Art Center.
The exhibition is made possible by generous support from Judy Dayton.