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Institute of Contemporary Art Presents New Work by Douglas Blau
Douglas Blau, The Naturalist Gathers, 1992. Installation view. SteinGladstone, New York.

PHILADELPHIA.- To open the season, ICA is pleased to present new work by New York artist Douglas Blau. This will be Blau’s first exhibition of new work in nearly a decade. The exhibition also features an earlier piece The Conversation Piece (1993/1995), which depicts political dialogue in all its variety, from tête-àtêtes to the legislative body, throughout the ages.

Douglas Blau creates picture epics and episodes from uniformly framed collages of printed matter. Postcards, film stills, images of paintings and photographs, pictures of all kinds are cut and pasted into individual collage elements. These are composed into sequences, strips and grids, based on formal and narrative associations that flow from frame-to-frame. The big picture is depiction itself. Centuries of picture making appear distilled through Blau’s art into an essential cast of characters and repertoire of plots, periods, styles, locations, and genres. Only the details and degrees of abstraction vary over time and through reproduction, the mechanics of which produce the shifts of tone and color, different inks and papers that Blau orchestrates into each overall composition.

Since the 1980s, Douglas Blau has used words and pictures interchangeably to create a highly regarded and unique body of work. He emerged as a critic and curator in tandem with the Pictures Generation of artists. In 1987, his exhibition “Fictions” was the first in a maverick series to apply curatorial practice to the construction of explicit narratives. These fictions further unfolded through Blau’s writings--including influential essays on Troy Brauntuch, Vija Celmins, Mark Tansey and Elizabeth Peyton, among other artists--in which invented characters, travelogues, and indexes constitute an unusually literary account of contemporary art’s place in Western art history.

Douglas Blau (b. 1955 Los Angeles, lives New York) attended the graduate program in Cinema Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, after taking degrees in both Fine Arts and Art History at Washington University, Saint Louis. His past exhibitions include: “Fictions: A Selection of Pictures from the 18th, 19th, and 20th Centuries,” at Curt Marcus Gallery and Kent Fine Art, New York, 1987; “The Times, The Chronicle & The Observer,” Kent Fine Art, New York, 1991; “The Naturalist Gathers” at SteinGladstone, New York, and Thomas Solomon’s Garage, Los Angeles, 1992; and “Stills,” Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1994. His writings have appeared in numerous magazines and gallery and museum publications with titles including: “Solid Air” an essay for the 1992 Vija Celmins exhibition at ICA, Philadelphia; “Index (from The Naturalist Gathers)” in Deep Storage, 1997; and “The Studio,” a picture essay for the 1997 Whitney Biennial exhibition catalog.

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