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Announcement
February 10, 2012

Carl Ostendarp: Fat Cakes/Myopic Void

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University
Carl Ostendarp, “Myopic Void,” 2012 (detail). Acrylic house paint on wall, 15 ft. 6 in. x 103 ft.
Photo by Bernard Yenelouis.

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University presents Fat Cakes/Myopic Void, painter Carl Ostendarp’s third major curatorial project combining paintings, sculpture, and works on paper from museum collections with his own murals and playlists.

 

Ostendarp is best known for paintings characterized by simple biomorphic forms, words, and rich unmodulated color that engage the history of late Modernist art, conflating Pop, Color Field, Minimalism, and cartoons with his own sense of humor. For Fat Cakes/Myopic Void Ostendarp chose works from the Johnson Museum’s collection by such master artists as Andy Warhol, Barnett Newman, Helen Frankenthaler, Mary Heilmann, James Rosenquist, Robert Smithson, and John Chamberlain, primarily from the 1960s and ’70s. He has installed these works adjacent to others by lesser-known artists, such as Dan Christensen, Richard Lindner, Nicholas Krushenick, and Alex Hay. With an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of painting—particularly its more obscure modern aspects—Ostendarp is able to subtly challenge such long-held curatorial tenets as “standing the test of time” and “the curator’s eye.”

 

The works are displayed in two galleries covered by two-color, drip-pattern murals. Designed by Ostendarp, the murals were painted by him with the assistance of Johnson Museum staff and Cornell art department graduate students over a period of seven weeks. Both the individual works from the Johnson’s collection and the murals are sited in the galleries based on a mathematical process that Ostendarp derived from the specific measurements of the spaces. The imagery of the murals references dripping paint, with the deliberate choice of juxtaposing colors resulting in an unstable viewing position. The lines of the mural also allude to landscape vistas and schematic sound waves, emphasized by the music playing in the galleries.

 

Ostendarp borrowed the title for this installation from two early 1970s songs by soul-jazz organist Jimmy McGriff and heavy-psych band Captain Beyond, respectively, representing two musical forms that, according to the artist, “mirror developments in the visual arts of this period in that both are concerned with a more physical engagement in the production and reception of their experience.” Music and sound have played a central role in Ostendarp’s work as long as he has been making art: “I like having the song in the mind of the viewer or playing in the space. Somehow music has this quality of keeping us in the present tense, and I hope that this feeling spills over to the viewers’ experience of the visual work.”

 

Ostendarp’s first mural installation, All Tomorrow’s Parties, took place at the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt in 2007; the 1967 Velvet Underground recording of the same title was played in the gallery as an integral part of the installation. A similar installation at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, In 2009, Pulled Up, borrowed its title from the Talking Heads (two of their members were RISD alumni) and featured a playlist by the Talking Heads, the Replacements, Sonic Youth, the Pixies, and Pavement.

 

Carl Ostendarp is currently a visiting assistant professor and the director of graduate studies in Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning’s Department of Art. The exhibition was curated by Andrea Inselmann, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Johnson Museum, and supported by a grant from the Cornell Council for the Arts.

 

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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