Exhibitions help shape the way people view and think about art. This exhibition, entitled “The Old in the New” is no different. Through a careful selection of contemporary artists and works, this exhibit is intended to make viewers consider the roots of contemporary art in comparative perspectives, something that is rarely done. In turn, the audience will get a better sense of artistic traditions.
Curation and Theme
“The Old in the New” focuses on the ways older western artistic traditions inform contemporary art. This theme of the persistence and reception of artistic traditions is what characterizes each of the paintings in this collection. Overall, the exhibit is intended to encourage viewers not only to look at western traditions and see how they still inform contemporary art, but also to reconsider how this effects artistic traditions all over the world, as well as how it is adapted for the current era. Each individual artist looks at this persistence of tradition in a different way. Thus, the exhibit covers artistic tradition as the ultimate influencer of art (with Sharon Core’s art), art traditions interpreted to the modern era (with Hendrick Kerstens’ art), and western artistic traditions in a non-western gaze (with Rashid Rana’s art).
Each artist was chosen because of their use of western art as inspiration or their adherence to western artistic tradition. For artists such as Sharon Core and Hendrick Kerstens, western art traditions characterize the formation of their work; however, they use other mediums, often looking at these traditions through the perspective of photography. Core clings the most to older artistic traditions in her various series consisting of reproductions of older still lives. While she bases her paintings on the photographs taken of these still lives in order to create an additional layer of depth to the image (Yancey Richardson Gallery), they very much mirror the artistic traditions of the time the original was painted.
Kerstens evaluates the way that photography can be used in recreating Dutch portraits. His series of his daughter as the subject of photographs based on Dutch portraits often incorporates some modern additions, mostly through the stylized headgear she wears (“Hendrick Kerstens at…”). These portraits reflect the way that artistic traditions have been manipulated to accommodate for current day artistic mediums. Audiences should consider this when looking at contemporary art.
Rashid Rana’s series Scattered in Time uses broken up, pixelated pictures of famous paintings to critique the way that western culture and, by extension, western artistic styles have resulted alterations in Southern Asian identity and culture (“Rashid Rana”). Western art traditions are some of the large influences on artistic tastes, something that has resulted, often, in the degradation of other non-western art and changes in their artistic traditions. It is important for art consumers to be aware of this, especially as they look at contemporary art from non-western countries and compare them to contemporary art from western countries.
Uninformed observers often treat contemporary art as unique and largely uninformed by older artistic traditions. This exhibit aims to challenge that viewpoint, and help the audience see that the development of new art can connect to past art and artistic traditions. In the form of an interesting exhibit, rather than, say, a book, this show will do the important job of allowing visitors to get a sense of the artistic history which can inform contemporary art, and see just how the persistence of traditions shapes what we consider art.
This show will be shown as a small exhibit in a museum. As it is meant to challenge the viewer’s perspectives on the work of the “old masters” in comparison to contemporary art, this venue will give the exhibit more legitimacy in the eyes of the public, and encourage viewers to think more seriously about this theme.
Sharon Core is an American artist, born in 1965 in New Orleans. She was trained at the University of Georgia (for her undergrad) and Yale University School of Art (where she received her MFA). Core focuses on photography and still lives in her professional life, often depicting scenes of nature or other still lives created by past artists. She has shown work all over the world, and has been the recipient of several awards, such as the George Sakier Memorial Prize for Excellence in Photography. Core is most known for challenging the audiences relationship with photography, suggesting alternate meanings of photographs (Yancey Richardson Gallery).
Rashid Rana was born in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1968. He was trained at the National College of the Arts in Lahore, and then at the Massachusetts College of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. While he primarily trained in painting, Rana also commonly uses photography and digital printmaking in his works. His works are often deeply political by nature, critiquing reactions to recent events in Pakistan and the larger world (Lisson Gallery). In his recent series Scattered in Time, Rana critiques colonization and Its impact on Pakistani culture (“Rashid Rana…). Currently based in Lahore, Rana is the head of the Fine Arts department at Beaconhouse National University, and is one of Pakistan’s most famous contemporary artists (Lisson Gallery).
Hendrick Kerstens was born in 1956 in the Hague, the Netherlands. In 1995, with no formal training, he entered the art world by photographing his daughter (artnet). After noticing his daughter’s resemblance to the subjects of portraits by Dutch masters, this self-taught artist eventually began a series of portrait photographs of her, using the same traditions that characterize Dutch and Renaissance painting. This series eventually became renowned worldwide, winning him multiple prizes (“Hendrick Kerstens”). The fashion designer Alexander McQueen even used one of the portraits, Bag, as the inspiration for a line of clothing (“Hendrick Kerstens at…). Kerstens continues to expand the series, and currently works out of Amsterdam, the Netherlands (artnet).
In this way, through the theme of the persistent continuity of artistic traditions, this exhibit will focus on the way older artistic traditions influence contemporary art. The multitude of ways demonstrated by each individual artist will bring into focus the multifaceted way artistic traditions can be interpreted in the modern era. With the exhibit’s placement in a museum, this exhibit will hopefully teach visitors about the way art is interconnected and help develop some interesting conversations about the nature of art itself.
artnet. “Hendrik Kerstens.” Artnet, Artnet, www.artnet.com/artists/hendrik-kerstens/.
“Hendrik Kerstens at Danziger Gallery.” Artsy, Artsy, www.artsy.net/artwork/hendrik-kerstens-red-rabbit-ii.
“Hendrick Kerstens.” Danziger Gallery, Danziger Gallery, www.danzigergallery.com/artists/hendrik-kerstens.
Lisson Gallery. “Rashid Rana.” Lisson Gallery, www.lissongallery.com/artists/rashid-rana/.
“Rashid Rana: Scattered in Time at Leila Heller Gallery.” Artsy, Artsy, www.artsy.net/artwork/rashid-rana-re-view.
Yancy Richardson. “Sharon Core.” Yancey Richardson Gallery, www.yanceyrichardson.com/artists/sharon-core.