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UB Art Gallery and Albright-Knox Art Gallery open Tony Conrad retrospective
Tony Conrad, WiP (2013), on view in Tony Conrad: WiP, Greene Naftali, New York, 2013. Installation of wooden bars, locks, bunk beds, moving blankets, bedpans, sinks, painted walls, blinking overhead LED lighting, and single-channel digital projection of edited footage from Jail Jail (1982-83, unfinished) (16mm film, black and white, silent, transferred to digital; 1 hour, 8 minutes, 40 seconds). Dimensions variable. Photo: Jason Mandella. Courtesy The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York. Images courtesy Greene Naftali, New York. Work © The Estate of Tony Conrad.

BUFFALO, NY.- The Albright-Knox Art Gallery and University at Buffalo Art Galleries are co-presenting the special exhibition Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective. Throughout his six-decade career, Tony Conrad (American, 1940–2016) forged his own path through numerous artistic movements, from Fluxus to the Pictures Generation and beyond. Although he was best known for his pioneering contributions to both minimal music and structural film in the 1960s, his work helped define a vast range of culture, including rock music and public television. He once declared in an interview, “You don’t know who I am, but somehow, indirectly, you’ve been affected by things I did.” This exhibition, the first large-scale museum survey devoted to artworks Conrad presented in museum and gallery settings, is part of an ongoing reappraisal of his creative achievement. Indeed, because of the extraordinary scope of Conrad’s contributions to art and culture, this retrospective may yet be seen as only an “introduction.”

The exhibition, which includes major artworks by Conrad installed at both institutions, opens at the UB Art Gallery (UBAG), Center for the Arts on February 8 and runs through May 26, and at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (AKAG) from March 3–May 27.

“As an artist, musician, community activist, trenchant critic of the media status quo, and UB professor for 40 years, Tony Conrad made an enormous impact. This exhibition honors both the Albright-Knox and UB’s long relationship with Conrad, which in both cases dates to his arrival in Buffalo in 1976,” said Cathleen Chaffee, Chief Curator of the Albright-Knox. Rachel Adams, Senior Curator of Exhibitions at the UB Art Galleries observed, “It was only towards the end of his life that Tony Conrad’s visual art was embraced by museums and galleries with the same enthusiasm that had met his films and music. We are proud to collaborate with the Albright-Knox to realize this first large-scale museum survey that honors his work as an artist.”

Conrad’s first film, The Flicker, 1966—a stroboscopic experiment famous for its attack on both the filmic medium and its audience’s senses—soon led to projects in which he treated film as a sculptural and performative material. In Sukiyaki Film, 1973, for instance, Conrad rapidly stir-fried film and hurled it at the screen, and in his Yellow Movies, 1972–73, he coated paper surfaces with cheap white paint and presented them as slowly-changing “films.” He invented musical instruments out of materials as humble as a Band-Aid tin and presented such acoustical tools as sculptures themselves. In the 1980s, his ambitious films about power relations in the army and in prisons evoked and critiqued what he perceived as an emerging culture of surveillance, control, and containment. His regular programs for public access television made him an influential voice within the community. Each of these bodies of work will be highlighted through different examples on view at both the AKAG and UBAG.

A deep-rooted contributor to the cultural life of Buffalo, Conrad was a SUNY Distinguished professor in the Department of Media Study at UB from 1976 until his death. He was a founder of Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center and a frequent collaborator with Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center and the Burchfield Penney Art Center. These community partners have all planned associated installations, screenings, performances, and more from January through May 2018. For more information on programs organized in association with Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective please visit:

The accompanying catalogue, to be published in the Spring of 2018 by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in association with Walther König Verlag, is edited by Cathleen Chaffee, with contributions by Chaffee, Rachel Adams, Vera Alemani, Constance DeJong, Diedrich Diederichsen, Anthony Elms, David Grubbs, Henriette Huldisch, Branden W. Joseph, Andrew Lampert, Christopher Müller, Annie Ochmanek, Tony Oursler, Tina Rivers Ryan, Jay Sanders, Paige Sarlin, and Christopher Williams.

The exhibition will travel for a copresentation at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University from October 2018 to January 2019, and to the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania in February 2019.

Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective is organized by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery with the support of the University at Buffalo Art Galleries. Its presentation in Buffalo is organized by Cathleen Chaffee, Chief Curator, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and Rachel Adams, Senior Curator, University at Buffalo Art Galleries, with Tina Rivers Ryan, Assistant Curator, Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

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