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Little-explored body of underground artist's work revisited 23 years after historic debut
Holt Quentel, White Plastic Side Chair Caster Base, Eames for Herman Miller/Foam with Duct Tape, 1990. Image courtesy of the artist.
ASPEN, CO.- Beginning Friday, November 15, 2013, the Aspen Art Museum presents the work of artist Holt Quentel. The exhibition will remain on view through Sunday, January 19, 2014. A public reception will be held at 6 pm on Thursday, December 19, 2013, and a gallery conversation about Quentel’s work will take place with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Professor and Chair of Painting and Drawing, critic, and independent curator Terry R. Myers on January 16, 2014.

Holt Quentel (b. 1961) achieved recognition in the late 1980s for her paintings made from distressed tarpaulins stenciled with letters and symbols. At Stux Gallery in New York in 1990, Quentel presented an exhibition of modified side chairs designed by Charles Eames and mass-produced by Herman Miller, which she embellished with kitschy fabric coverings, Grateful Dead stickers, and other decals. Falling somewhere between the readymade and found object assemblage, Quentel’s sculptures personalized these highly uniform icons of modern design, touching on what she described as “the contradictions inherent in the utopian desire to create a universal commodity” and ironically addressing the social implications of the modernist aesthetic. Shortly after this exhibition, Quentel absented herself from the art world.

Despite the mystery surrounding her self-imposed exile, Quentel and her works have maintained a vital, if underground, presence. Now, twenty-three years later, the Aspen Art Museum brings these objects back together for the artist’s first solo museum presentation, which features seventeen distinct works incorporating Quentel’s altered Eames-designed chairs, and reopens this little-known body of work to new discourse and new evaluation.

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