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Santa Fe, NM 87501


Disparities and Deformations

Installation View, 2004 (L to R) Maria Lassnig, Thomas Schütte, Jörg Immendorff, Thomas Schütte, Neo Rauch, Sigmar Polke

Our Grotesque

Grotesque,” derived from the Italian word “grotto,” first referred to the strange motifs discovered when the ruins of Nero’s palaces were unearthed in the 15th century and their heavily ornamented interiors came to light. Unlike their classical counterparts, these late-Roman ornaments were characterized by strangely incongruous elements—bizarre combinations of plant, animal, human, or monstrous forms. Such antique whimsies became an inspiration to Renaissance masters like Raphael and Dürer. Subsequently, the grotesque intermittently preoccupied and gave license to artists during the Baroque, Rococo, Romantic, modern, and postmodern periods.

Over the centuries, the grotesque spirit has evolved into intertwining traditions of widely various permutations, from the figurative to the abstract, fanciful to nightmarish, comic to harrowing, and exquisite to unapologetically vulgar. The grotesque reveals some of the world’s ambiguities and people’s ambivalences in ways that are impossible to ignore or deny, dissolving familiar realities into disconcerting paradoxes.

Disparities and Deformations: Our Grotesque brought together a diverse group of contemporary artworks that respond and give new substance to the sense of emotional and logical uncertainty inherent in the grotesque, described by the 19th-century writer Jean Paul as a state of “soul dizziness.” The exhibition tracked the incongruous combination of disparate forms and ideas in the work of internationally renowned artists of different generations, coming from various cultural contexts, and working with different processes and ideas. The exhibition revealed the many elements of paradox, usually critical, inherent in the artists’ work while showing that the grotesque has many sources of inspiration and a nearly infinite number of guises.

Approximately 60 artists were represented in the exhibition, and two installations and two media projects were created especially for the Biennial. All works included in the Biennial—some newly created and never exhibited before—expressed a sensibility that is alive in the world at the moment, at a time rife with cultural contradictions of all types.

Among the exhibition’s highlights were original pages from Charles Burns’s multivolume comic book series Black Hole; a major installation by Kim Jones, who works with a wide range of materials and processes such as photography, drawing, sculpture, and performance; the work of Lamar Peterson, a young artist participating in an international exhibition for the first time; select images by Maria Lassnig, an Austrian painter in her 80s whose images are both comical and alarming; work by Peter Saul, an all-around oppositional artist and one of the fathers of “bad boy” painting; new sculpture by Paul McCarthy, who specializes in formal anarchy and rude comedy; paintings by Lisa Yuskavage executed in old master technique put to the service of, and clashing with, distorted images; and the films of John Waters, finely crafted caricatures, at once stylish and vulgar, of everything that good taste and right-mindedness are supposed to stand for.

Exhibited Artists:
Ricci Albenda
Louise Bourgeois
Charles Burns
Francesco Clemente
Bruce Conner
R. Crumb
John Currin
Carrol Dunham
James Esber
Inka Essenhigh
Tom Friedman
Ellen Gallagher
Robert Gober
Douglas Gordon
Mark Greenwold
Lyle Ashton Harris
Jörg Immendorff
Jasper Johns
Kim Jones
Mike Kelley
Maria Lassnig
Sherrie Levine
Christian Marclay
Paul McCarthy
Jennifer McCoy
Kevin McCoy
Elizabeth Murray
Bruce Nauman
Hermann Nitsch
Jim Nutt
Tony Oursler
Gary Panter
Lamar Peterson
Raymond Pettibon
Lari Pittman
Sigmar Polke
Neo Rauch
Alexander Ross
Susan Rothenberg
Peter Saul
Jenny Saville
Thomas Schütte
Jim Shaw
Cindy Sherman
Laurie Simmons
Fred Tomaselli
Adriana Varejão
Davor Vrankič
Kara Walker
Jeff Wall
John Waters
John Wesley
Franz West
Lisa Yuskavage

Rob Storr

Artist Bios

Ricci Albenda

Ricci Albenda’s wall installations and three-dimensional environments have appeared in museums and galleries throughout Europe and the United States. Albenda’s disorienting work deconstructs both the physical and conceptual world. Trompe l’oeil, structural manipulations, and text create a portal through which participants move.VIEW ARTIST

Robert Storr

Robert Storr is a painter, educator, critic, and curator. He earned his BA at Swarthmore College in 1972 and in 1978 his MFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. His work has been widely exhibited in New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, and Paris. His work is in the collections of the Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City; the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; The Mead Art Museum, Amherst College; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and many other comparable institutions. VIEW CURATOR