P!CKER Full programme breakdown:
PART I: Elaine Lustig Cohen Looking Backward to Look Forward
28 September – 11 November 2017
Launch: Wednesday 27 September, 6-8.30pm / All welcome
14 – 18 November 2017
During the changeover, the show will stay open to the public
PART II Céline Condorelli Prologue
23 November 2017 – 27 January 2018
Launch: Wednesday 22 November, 6-8.30pm. Conversation between Condorelli and Krishnamurthy 5.30pm / All welcome
P!CKER proffers a particular proposition: that curating, design, and other artistic pursuits in our present times must eschew the promotion of perfect products, instead presenting the creative process itself, with its plurality of positive outcomes and periodic faux pas.
This peculiar statement connects the activities of Stanley Picker Gallery, whose programme embraces the intersections of art and design within a university context, with that of P!, a hybrid exhibition space and ‘Mom-and-Pop-Kunsthalle’ that existed in New York City from 2012–2017. Founded by designer, curator, and educator Prem Krishnamurthy, P! operated with a quixotic drive to remake conventions of exhibition display, reexamine the relationship between aesthetics and political agendas, and reconsider accepted boundaries of contemporary creative practice.
With this collaborative context, P!CKER emerges as a series of two solo exhibitions – presenting polymathic practitioners Elaine Lustig Cohen and Céline Condorelli – alongside a programme of activities. Building off P!’s five year exhibition history while pointing towards future pursuits, the exhibition offers alternative models for considering interdisciplinary pedagogy and ways to work within the world.
P!CKER, PART I
Elaine Lustig Cohen Looking Backward to Look Forward
How do we take stock of a multifaceted creative life that never stood still? Over six decades of practice, Elaine Lustig Cohen (1927–2016) moved between diverse activities including design, art-making, art dealing, archiving, collecting, and researching. While she is known most widely for her groundbreaking graphic design work from the 1950s and 1960s, which extended the vocabulary of European modernism to an American context, the visibility of her rigorous body of artwork has grown substantially over the past years. Always changing, Lustig Cohen shifted from hard-edged abstraction in the 1960s and 1970s into photographic collage, work on paper, sculptural assemblage, and alphabetical experimentation in her later decades. Her visual output developed in close ‘intellectual friendship’ with leading writers, architects, designers, and artists of her time.
Reflecting this open spirit, P!CKER, Part I – Lustig Cohen’s first solo exhibition in Great Britain – positions her practice within an experimental framework. Conceived and designed by Prem Krishnamurthy of P!, who worked closely with the artist during her last years, the exhibition focuses on a small selection from Lustig Cohen’s prodigious production alongside other objects, documents, and displays from her final exhibitions and collaborations. Presented subjectively and acknowledging its own gaps, the show aims to be generative rather than definitive – asking questions about the work on view and suggesting pathways for further research.
A series of reading groups, informed by Lustig Cohen’s work, her literary interests, and other theoretical and philosophical strands, take place over the course of the exhibition. In November, the show transforms into Prologue: a solo presentation by Céline Condorelli, which overlaps in content and concerns with Epilogue, the closing exhibition at P! from Spring 2017.
It seems sometimes the future arrives before the past.
Elaine Lustig Cohen (1927–2016) was widely celebrated in her life as a graphic designer, artist, art dealer, and archivist. Her multifaceted accomplishments encompass pioneering design projects that extended the aesthetic vocabulary of European modernism into an American context, including commissions with clients such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Jewish Museum, and architects Eero Saarinen, Philip Johnson, and Richard Meier; to exhibitions as an artist at Bard College, Exit Art, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Mary Boone Gallery (first solo show by a female artist); to founding the influential Upper East Side bookstore Ex Libris, specialized in avant-garde publications and ephemera. She enjoyed a renewed interest in her practice in later years, including receiving the 2011 AIGA Medal for her life’s work in design, as well as mounting exhibitions at LACMA, Los Angeles (2016); The Glass House, New Canaan (2015), and P!, New York (2014). In 2018–2019, her interdisciplinary work will be the subject of a multi-venue ‘constellation of exhibitions’ at The Jewish Museum, NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts Great Hall, and other New York institutions.
Prem Krishnamurthy (b. 1977) works between design, curating, writing, and teaching. As Founding Principal of Project Projects, he received the Cooper Hewitt’s 2015 National Design Award for Communication Design, the USA’s highest recognition in the field, for his work with museums, artists, architects, and educational institutions. From 2012–2017, Prem established and curated the multidisciplinary exhibition space P! in New York City’s Chinatown, and has independently organized shows and programs at Para Site (Hong Kong), SALT Beyoglu (Istanbul), and Austrian Cultural Forum New York. His writing on exhibition histories has appeared in journals such as The Exhibitionist and in catalogues for the Art Institute of Chicago and CCA Watts. Recent books as co-editor include MATRIX/Berkeley: A Changing Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Draw It With Your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment. Prem is on faculty at the Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies and Barnard College. His experimental, interactive monograph/memoir/manifesto, P!DF, was published by O-R-G in September 2017. http://o-r-g.com/apps/p-df