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The Guggenheim Museum presents a new group of paintings by contemporary artist R. H. Quaytman
R. H. Quaytman, + ×, Chapter 34, 2018. Oil, acrylic, snakeskin, and gesso on wood, 50.8 x 50.8 cm. Collection of the artist. Photo: David Heald.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents R. H. Quaytman: + x, Chapter 34, featuring a new group of paintings by contemporary artist R. H. Quaytman. This presentation is organized in tandem with Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, the first exhibition devoted to Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) in the United States since Quaytman organized a survey of the Swedish artist’s work nearly thirty years ago at New York’s P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center. Quaytman’s new paintings engage af Klint’s work through visual quotations and conceptual references, offering a multifaceted examination of af Klint’s output and legacy. R. H. Quaytman: + x, Chapter 34 is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in New York and features twenty-eight paintings on the sixth level of the Guggenheim Museum’s rotunda from October 12, 2018, through April 23, 2019. The exhibition is organized by Tracey Bashkoff, Director of Collections and Senior Curator, and David Horowitz, Curatorial Assistant.

In this chapter of paintings, Quaytman has distilled af Klint’s groundbreaking formal strategies and reconfigured her systematized imagery, thereby illuminating the ties between af Klint’s radical divergence from artistic conventions and her incorporation of scientific discoveries and visual styles, most notably the diagram. Quaytman’s title evokes this rationalism by quoting the familiar mathematical symbols that af Klint used esoterically in the course of her radical artistic pursuits. The characters + × appear on the first page of many of the roughly 125 notebooks left behind by af Klint, in which she methodically documented her work, her interpretations of its significance, and her spiritual experiences. Quaytman’s interest in these symbols, and the notebooks in which they appear, lies in what they imply about af Klint’s scientifically informed approach to art making. Taking into account the dedication of the Guggenheim’s founders to spiritually oriented abstraction, these new works offer a reconsideration of the relationship between af Klint and that movement. Quaytman simultaneously elaborates upon other underrecognized aspects of af Klint’s work through references to gender, landscape painting, violence, and the body, offering alternate ways to consider af Klint and her practice.

Employing a variety of conceptual and pictorial strategies, Quaytman explores the factors that enable a painting to generate meaning, whether they be its content, context, or mode of production. Works are organized into focused groups referred to as “chapters,” which are sequentially numbered and uniquely titled. The subject matter of each chapter is shaped in response to the particular history, architecture, and local identity of the venue where it is first shown. With few exceptions, individual paintings share their chapter’s moniker. Paintings are executed on plywood panels with beveled edges and conform to a consistent set of geometrically interrelated dimensions. Despite these rigorously held consistencies, Quaytman’s work is not reducible to a systematically applied set of rules. Instead the artist uses these parameters to explore subjects as diverse as philosophy, science, and art history, while maintaining an underlying formal and conceptual unity that permeates each of the chapters, as well as the ever-growing body of work they comprise. Quaytman’s decision to conceive of this ongoing project, begun in 2001, was based on an awareness of af Klint, who understood each of her paintings as part of a larger whole.

R. H. Quaytman lives and works in New York and Connecticut. Born in Boston in 1961, the artist received a BA in painting from Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (1983), and went on to attend the postgraduate program in painting at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin (1984), and the Institut des hautes études en arts plastiques, Paris (1989). Quaytman was awarded a Rome Prize fellowship in 1992, and in 2015, the Wolfgang Hahn Prize. From 2005 through 2008, Quaytman served as the director of Orchard, an interdisciplinary and intergenerational artist-run gallery in New York’s Lower East Side. Quaytman has had solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2009); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2010); Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York (2010); Kunsthalle Basel (2011); Renaissance Society, Chicago (2013); Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2015); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2016); and Secession, Vienna (2017); among other venues. The artist’s work has also been shown in the Lodz Biennial, Poland (2004); the Whitney Biennial (2010); the Venice Biennale (2011); and Documenta 14 (2017).

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