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The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles presents The Painting Factory: Abstraction After Warhol
Rudolf Stingel, untitled, 1987, oil and enamel on canvas, © Rudolf Stingel. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.
LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Museum of Contemporary Art presents The Painting Factory: Abstraction After Warhol, on view from April 29 through August 20, 2012, at MOCA Grand Avenue. The exhibition, which explores the recent transformation of abstract painting into one of the most dynamic platforms in contemporary art, features works by Tauba Auerbach, Mark Bradford, DAS INSTITUT (Kerstin Brätsch and Adele Röder), Urs Fischer, Wade Guyton, Glenn Ligon, Julie Mehretu, Seth Price, Sterling Ruby, Josh Smith, Rudolf Stingel, Kelley Walker, Andy Warhol, and Christopher Wool.

The Painting Factory examines how a painting tradition that was once seen as essentially reductive has now become expansive, bringing popular culture and current technology into its vocabulary. Abstraction has become more external and less internal, with the practice of abstract painting opening up to encompass not only its own history, but the other great artistic innovations of the early 20th century, including collage, the readymade, and the extension of art into performance. Once monolithic and doctrinaire, abstract painting is now more open and layered in its structure. Rather than reducing itself to a narrow definition of the medium, it has re-emerged as an arena where opposing concepts can invigorate each other. The hybrid has replaced purity of form.

Ironically, one of the places where this fresh approach to abstraction was germinating was the studio that might seem the furthest from the practice of the abstract tradition: Andy Warhol’s Factory. The Factory was a haven for all sorts of brilliant misfits, but it was also a laboratory where historical and contemporary innovations in art and culture could be remixed and reconstituted. Especially after Warhol refocused on painting in the late 1970s and ’80s with series such as Shadows, Oxidations and Rorschachs, he transformed pure abstraction into an impure product that opened up new directions. He thrived on the increasing confusion between high art and progressive popular culture and the challenge to conventional methods of painting by the techniques of mechanical reproduction. These confrontations simultaneously undermined and expanded the accepted approaches to painting.

The exhibition follows a chain of influence from Andy Warhol as an abstract painter to Christopher Wool, Rudolf Stingel, and a younger generation who emerged from the mid-1990s to the present decade. Many of these artists draw on Warhol’s use of mechanical techniques and embrace of chance imperfections resulting from a deliberately imprecise use of silkscreen printing. This new generation of abstract artists is revitalizing the abstract tradition of the New York School by incorporating the intervening history of pop, minimal, and process art. Following Warhol’s approach to abstraction, elements of popular culture are often embedded into the work.

Each artist in The Painting Factory is represented by a body of work, a multi-panel work, or a pair of large paintings. The exhibition features new works created for the exhibition by Tauba Auerbach, Wade Guyton, Seth Price, and Christopher Wool. Josh Smith has created a painting installation for the entrance lobby. Large new paintings by Mark Bradford and Sterling Ruby will be shown for the first time. The exhibition also includes Dust Paintings by Urs Fischer that have never been exhibited. Julie Mehretu’s two Black City paintings will be presented together for the first time. DAS INSTITUT’s 2011 Venice Biennale installation has been re-created and will be presented in the United States for the first time. The exhibition begins with paintings from three of Andy Warhol’s late abstract series: Shadows, Rorschachs, and Camouflage, in a gallery flanked by rooms featuring works by Christopher Wool and Rudolf Stingel. A carpet painting by Rudolf Stingel will cover the entire gallery floor.

No longer “pictures of nothing,” the paintings in the exhibition address today’s social and cultural issues in addition to their dialogue with the dynamic history of abstraction. Abstract painting, which for a time was left for dead, has re-emerged as one of the art forms most engaged with contemporary life.



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