Over the last 150 years, artists have continuously re-evaluated conventions and accepted practices in an extended period of cultural innovation, with each generation pushing against the achievements of the preceding generation or striking out in new directions altogether. Many of these advances in art have mirrored the simultaneous rapid pace of change in science, technology, and society—as new ideas flourished in the world, artists responded with exciting new artistic forms. The constant push to forge new paths to express the human experience in the modern age can be seen most clearly, perhaps, in the medium of sculpture.
Just as the modernist impulse of Rodin and other artists who freed the figure from the duty of historic, narrative, and symbolic representation, eventually yielded post-modernist practices claiming performance, the physical landscape, and even the artist’s own body as sites of artistic exploration and significance, artists today continue to expand and question the boundaries of sculpture in an effort to create meaning for a world that continues to develop new definitions of identity, experience, and reality.
The Nasher Collection embodies a compendium of these far-reaching, richly varied ideas. This summer’s selection includes Medardo Rosso’s radical experiments with the casting process to express the ephemerality of experience; the seismic shift caused by Pablo Picasso’s development, along with Georges Braque, of the visual language of Cubism; Naum Gabo’s use of newly developed, space-age materials to express the technological ethos of the age, effectively dematerializing sculpture; as well as the ever-finer distillation of form to its essence beginning with Brancusi and running through Minimalism to the present moment. Artists working today continue to pursue many of these developments, adding their unique, contemporary perspectives and broadening the potential meanings of the forms.
A Tradition of Revolution presents a cross-section of the Nasher Collection and sculptural innovations of the last 150 years within the context of concurrent philosophical, scientific, and societal shifts. Ranging from the beginnings of Modernism in the work of Rodin, Gauguin, and others to radical experiments of the present day, the exhibition will include works never before seen at the Nasher, including several recent acquisitions.