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The Body is Topic of Exhibition at Kansas City's Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
Melanie Schiff, Spit, 2006; chromogenic color print, edition 2/3, 33 in. x 30 inches; Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum Purchase, Barbara Uhlmann Memorial Fund, 2007.11.
KANSAS CITY, MO.- Representation of the figure, whether human or animal, has been a fertile source of investigation and debate throughout the history of visual culture. The exhibition Transfigure features 37 works by a variety of artists and is on view September 5–November 2, 2008, at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Museum admission is free.

For millennia, the body has been depicted by artists in a variety of ways and in diverse media. But with rapid advances in technology and science, and the increasingly fragile relationship between nature and culture, the body image is a hot-button topic today. Selected from the Kemper Museum’s growing collection, the exhibition Transfigure charts how in recent years artists have considered the physical form of humans and animals, subtly revealing how its myriad manipulations and reinventions reflect the values of contemporary society.

Paintings, photographs, sculpture, ceramics, and digital animation make up the exhibition of works by artists from around the world. From the casual pose of Duane Hanson’s Salesman (1992) to the powerful image of a warrior in Gajin Fujita’s Ride or Die (2005), the human form is portrayed in a variety of ways, examining issues of representation and cultural identity. Moreover, works such as Jill Greenberg’s towering color photograph of a brown bear (a new acquisition for the Kemper Museum) and Michael Rees’s animated, hybrid form explore the vanishing line between the natural and artificial.

Artists in the exhibition: Magdalena Abakanowicz, L.C. Armstrong, Robert Arneson, Steven Assael, Tina Barney, José Bedia, Julie Blackmon, Christian Boltanski, Deborah Butterfield, Robert Chalmers, Angela Fraleigh, Gajin Fujita, Gao Brothers, Nan Goldin, Jill Greenberg, Kojo Griffin, Duane Hanson, Peregrine Honig, Elizabeth Huey, John Kalymnios, Nikki S. Lee, Loretta Lux, Neeta Madahar, Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine McCarthy, Greg Miller, Robyn O’Neil, Phillip Pearlstein, Michael Rees, Norberto Rodriguez, Lezley Saar, Melanie Schiff, Sandra Scolnik, Cindy Sherman, and William Wegman.

Kansas City’s renowned free modern and contemporary art museum, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art opened in October 1994 and draws more than 120,000 visitors each year. The Museum boasts a rapidly growing permanent collection of modern and contemporary works of artists from around the world. Permanent collection artists include Louise Bourgeois, Petah Coyne, Nan Goldin, Willem de Kooning, Hung Liu, Morris Louis, Joan Mitchell, Georgia O’Keeffe, Tom Otterness, Jaume Plensa, Matthew Ritchie, and Wayne Thiebaud. The Museum hosts temporary exhibitions, installations, performance work, film and video series, lectures, concerts, children’s workshops, and other creative programs designed to both entertain and challenge.

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