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The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit opens 'Michael Luchs: Fictitious Character'
A selection of the artist’s works fill MOCAD’s Central and DEPE Space galleries.

DETROIT, MICH.- The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is presenting a solo exhibition of the work of Michigan-based artist Michael Luchs. This survey constitutes the largest presentation of Luchs’s work to date. The exhibition will remain on view through Sunday, July 29, 2018.

A selection of the artist’s works fill MOCAD’s Central and DEPE Space galleries. Luchs’s paintings and sculptures are heavily worked and reworked, sometimes over the course of many years. They feature layers of color and texture, forming collages of unique gestures, which reflect both his iconic style and the aesthetic of Detroit’s Cass Corridor movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

Like many of his fellow Cass Corridor artists, Luchs’s work embodies a raw and frenetic romanticism, an energy that frames the unique fabric of his art—whether on paper, board, or canvas, often filled with scrappy renditions of animals or ovoid forms. Some works are backed with duct tape or framed on delicate wire-rolled paper, the found and scavenged materials gesturing at the ongoing collapse of the industrial center that surrounded him in his early years as an artist.

In the mid-1960s, Luchs began working with the image of the rabbit, which became a hallmark of his figurative depictions. Though his archives are filled with additional motifs—such as frogs, snakes, and moths, a sampling of which are on display at MOCAD—the rabbit has possessed a particular endurance and come to be emblematic of Luchs’s work. Rabbits have long been totems of speed, vulnerability, virility, and spontaneity, characteristics which aptly reflect the Cass Corridor movement’s embrace of the anarchic. The ubiquity of natural imagery in the work of an artist creating in the context of Detroit points to the tension Luchs felt in the world around him. Conflicts mirrored not only in the political and social environment, but also in mankind’s ongoing mechanical, chemical, and technological assault on the natural world.

As we find ourselves in another period of social, environmental, economic, and political uncertainty—one in many ways reminiscent of the 1960s and ’70s—the autonomy that energized Detroit’s Cass Corridor artists seems particularly trenchant. Emblems that read as hopeful then resonate again today, echoing both the uncertainty of the present moment and the hope for positive change. Luchs’s work pushes us to question the world as we see it, and, with all that has happened in the last several decades, to see the potential and the pitfalls along the road ahead.

In addition, the exhibition resents “Images” of Detroit’s Cass Corridor, a 73-minute filmvideo by Kathryn Brackett Luchs and Shaun Bangert. This 2002 work combines Super 8mm footage Brackett made in the 1970s of Detroit artists, including Luchs, with newer video and interviews with the artists. Viewers gain insight into Luchs and his peers’ processes and thoughts as they continue making new work and look back on their pasts.

Together with Copenhagen-based artist Tal R’s : this is not Detroit, on view simultaneously at MOCAD, the exhibition both embodies and challenges the Detroit that exists in the global imagination. Be it through their artistry, cultural beliefs, or, more simply, place of residence, each artist engages a narrative of community and outsiders, and the parallax between them.

Michael Luchs (b. Portsmouth, Ohio 1938) was among the celebrated Detroit Cass Corridor painters and sculptors in the 1960s and 1970s. Luchs graduated from Olivet College (Olivet, Michigan) in 1961, and attended the University of Michigan in 1964 before moving to Detroit, where he studied at Wayne State University (1966-68). His work is part of several collections including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Wayne State University James Duffy Collection, University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), and the Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, as well as private collections throughout the United States. He was recently part of the 2017 Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in New York, where he was the recipient of the Academy’s 2017 Art and Purchase Award.

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