January 29, 2013

Storm Tharp | Third Person

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University
Storm Tharp, Rope (After Schjerfbeck), 2008. Ink, gouache, colored pencil, and charcoal on paper, 58 x 85 1/2 inches. Collection of Susan Hoffman and Fred Trullinger. Photo: Dan Kvitka.

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University presents Storm Tharp | Third Person. Tharp is the youngest Cornell alumnus to have a monographic show of his work at the Johnson Museum. Previous alumni exhibitions have been dedicated to Margaret Bourke-White, Arthur Dove, Susan Rothenberg, Richard Artschwager, Gordon Matta-Clark, and James Siena. Storm Tharp | Third Person not only continues this tradition of exhibiting artist-graduates but also provides an opportunity to bring Tharp’s art to the attention of current students who aspire to be artists and to a wider public audience.

The two-part exhibition is on view both at the Johnson Museum and at Milstein Hall, home of Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. Works on view at the Johnson date from the past eight years, many on loan from collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The Milstein portion (through February 22) highlights Tharp’s newest drawings and sculptures along with a mural painted on site in late January by the artist, assisted by current Cornell students.

The artist will discuss his work at a free lecture on Thursday, January 31 at 5:15pm at the Johnson Museum.

Tharp graduated from Cornell in 1992 with a BFA. Following the selection of his work for the 2010 Whitney Biennial, he has become widely known for enigmatic portraits. “As I anticipate returning to Cornell for the first time in twenty-one years, I wonder, have I changed?” said Tharp. “Of course, much of my life has evolved, but by returning to Ithaca, I sense the same kind of excitement I felt when I landed at Cornell in 1988.”

His unique drawing process is an integral part of his approach to portraiture: Tharp often first draws contours on the paper with water and then applies mineral inks to the wet areas, causing pigments to bleed across the sheet. Through this element of chance, he builds up his distinctive characters inspired by a wide-ranging set of influences, including 1970s American cinema and Japanese portrait prints. To highlight some of these visual references, the artist has selected a group of Japanese prints from the Johnson’s permanent collection for display in the adjacent gallery at the Museum.

This exhibition was curated by Andrea Inselmann, curator of modern and contemporary art & photography at the Johnson Museum. A complete catalogue of the exhibition, the artist’s first museum publication, is forthcoming.

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
The Johnson Museum has a permanent collection of more than 35,000 works of art from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America. The museum building was designed by I. M. Pei and opened in 1973, funded by Cornell alumnus Herbert F. Johnson, late president and chairman of S C Johnson.

Press contact: Andrea Potochniak, [email protected]


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