'Complicit! Contemporary American Art and Mass Culture' Exhibit Opens Sept. 1

abstract painting of a plant and dreams

Susan Bee, "Tree of Lost Dreams," oil and collage on linen, 40 x 50 inches

August 31, 2006
Aug. 31, 2006 -- Contemporary artists are involved in a vital dialogue with mass culture.Their work challenges our assumptions about the identity and function of art in a world saturated with media images and messages.Many are using the materials of mass culture as the very material from which
they make art, acknowledging the seductive power of popular imagery.

“Complicit! Contemporary American Art and Mass Culture,”which opens at the University of Virginia Art Museum on Sept. 1, features more than 60 works by more than 50 cutting-edge contemporary, well known and emerging artists working in any and every medium — paint, sculpture, photography, mixed- and multi-media, book arts, printing and digital output.They are all engaged in a clear dialogue with mass culture, media industries and the history of fine art’s own vocabulary of methods and subjects of expression.

Curated by U.Va. artist, art historian and Robertson Professor of Media Studies Johanna Drucker, the exhibition draws its initial impetus from arguments put forth in Drucker’s recently published and highly provocative book, “Sweet Dreams: Contemporary Art and Complicity.”

“Artists are engaged in a new studio-based but conceptually self-conscious dialogue with mass culture,” Drucker said.The artists use 21st-century materials and ideas while at the same time drawing on art history.The works are fabricated and carefully crafted and “seductive, beautiful
and very rich in that way.”

Drucker chose the title of the exhibition as a means to challenge the academic and critical establishment that relies on outdated ways of talking about art and calls for a new critical voice to discuss art grounded in mass culture and at the same time grounded in making and processing, in studio practice and artful production, which are the foundation of current artists’work.

For more on the ‘Complicit!’ exhibit, go to the museum’s Web site.

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