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Eleanor Antin: Historical Takes at San Diego Museum of Art


SAN DIEGO.- Organized by SDMA, this solo exhibition features the work of celebrated conceptual artist Eleanor Antin. The exhibition is the first to focus on Antin’s recent series of large-scale tableaux photographs based on Greek and Roman history and mythology, which are presented together for the first time.

The exquisitely staged photographs from Antin’s three new series, Roman Allegories, Last Days of Pompeii, and Helen’s Odyssey, are witty and psychologically complex melodramatic enactments of mythological and fictional classical narratives. The artist’s friends and models pose in various locations throughout San Diego (including SDMA’s a classically transformed James S. Copley Auditorium) that are suggestive of sites from the ancient world.

In her new works, created from 2001 to 2008, Antin engages photography in a dialogue with nineteenth-century European salon painting, evident in the staging and backdrops of her photos that were inspired or transformed from the grand tradition of European history painting. The works are affectionate spoofs on classical culture with metaphorical parallels to the excesses of contemporary consumer economy.

Antin’s most recent photographs are presented along with a selection of works from three of her earlier quasi-historical projects from the 1970s and 1980s, The King of Solana Beach (1974–1975), The Angel of Mercy (1977), and Recollections of My Life with Diaghilev (1981–1987).

Eleanor Antin was born in New York City in 1935. She is considered one of the most influential artists to emerge from the feminist art movement of the 1960s and 1970s and is also one of the most highly regarded women conceptual artists of the period. An influential performance artist, film and video maker, and photographer and installation artist, Antin delves into history as a way to explore the present. She lives and works in San Diego, California, and is an Emeritus Professor at the University of California, San Diego.





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