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'Revolt: Aesthetics of Dissent and Disgust' opens at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
Juan Genovés, Despues, ahora, ahora, antes, from the portfolio Silencio, Silencio, 1970. Drypoint and aquatint on Arches paper. Gift of Jerome Singer. Collection of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University.

ITHACA, NY.- The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University presents Revolt: Aesthetics of Dissent and Disgust, on view April 18 through June 14, 2015.

Each year the Johnson Museum provides an opportunity for students in Cornell’s History of Art Majors’ Society to gain direct curatorial experience by organizing an exhibition. This year, the exhibition takes as its starting point not a particular geographic area or time period, but rather a phenomenon that exists wherever consolidated authority or conventions of good taste have taken hold.

Protest and civil unrest have received enormous attention on the recent global stage. From Ferguson, Missouri, to Hong Kong, individuals and nongovernment organizations have spoken up to influence political and social realities. The History of Art Majors’ Society has considered the term “revolt” in its myriad meanings, resulting in an exhibition that explores resistance to prevailing social, cultural, artistic, and political conventions.

Some of the works on view visualize the theme directly, and explicitly protest against authority. Others are “revolting” in that they offend orthodox tastes or diverge from artistic norms. The crux of the exhibition, however, lies in points of intersection between these two forms of revolt, highlighting how artists’ search for aesthetic language to express dissatisfaction with the status quo leads to the use of experimental, innovative, or grotesque forms and styles.

As an institution that has been revolutionary since its 1865 founding as both nonsectarian and coeducational, Cornell is a natural locus. By also including images of Cornell’s history, with the support of the Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, we hope to contextualize the concept of revolt by showing how innovative, unconventional, and often controversial decisions have shaped Cornell throughout its 150 years.

This exhibition was curated by undergraduate members of Cornell’s History of Art Majors’ Society with oversight by Alana Ryder, Mellon Curatorial Coordinator for Academic Programs at the Johnson Museum, and funded in part by grants from Cornell’s Student Assembly Finance Commission and Cornell’s International Students Union, and a generous gift from Betsey and Alan Harris.

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