Above: Twins (Subway) by Jordan Casteel. Oil on canvas, 72 x 56″, 2018.
For the winter/spring 2020 season, the New Museum presents solo exhibitions by painters Peter Saul and Jordan Casteel in the Museum’s main galleries, along with a new sculptural installation by Daiga Grantina in the Lobby Gallery.
Peter Saul: Crime and Punishment
February 11–May 31, 2020
Third and Fourth Floors
Peter Saul’s first New York museum survey brings together approximately 60 paintings from across his long career. Often considered outside the narrative of twentieth-century art, Saul’s work has gained greater appreciation as younger artists register his influence.
In the early 1960s, Saul began incorporating imagery from pop-cultural sources into his exuberant, brightly colored paintings. Developing his work independently from concurrent artistic movements like Pop art, Saul crafted his own unique blend of Surrealism, history painting, vernacular illustration, and the real-life shock and horror of current events.
Saul began to include text, recognizable characters, and consumer products in his works early in his career, plucking figures from the pages of comic books and depositing them into chaotic scenes that represent the avarice and violence of America. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Saul created some of his most shocking works in response to the Vietnam War. Later paintings reflect the dissolution of 1960s counterculture and the corruption, racism, and greed of US politics.
Saul extended his interrogation of American history in portraits of infamous criminals, archetypes like cowboys and businessmen, and US presidents such as Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump. He has also reimagined supposedly triumphant scenes from America’s past—including Columbus’s arrival in America and Washington crossing the Delaware—as moments of comical failure or disgrace. Championed by West Coast artists like Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw, Saul’s work, pushed for so long to the margins of the art world, now proves to be a perfect expression of our horrific present.
This exhibition is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director, and Gary Carrion-Murayari, Kraus Family Curator. A fully illustrated catalogue, copublished with Phaidon Press, will accompany the exhibition, featuring new contributions from Robert Cozzolino, Matthew Israel, Dan Nadel, Nicole Rudick, and John C. Welchman, and interviews with Peter Saul and Thomas Crow.
Jordan Casteel: Within Reach
February 19–May 24, 2020
Within Reach, Jordan Casteel’s first solo museum exhibition in New York, features nearly 40 paintings spanning her career, including works from her celebrated series Visible Man (2013–14) and Nights in Harlem (2017), and recent portraits of her students at Rutgers University-Newark.
Casteel’s large-scale oil paintings evince a figurative language permeated by the presence of her subjects, whom she typically captures in larger-than-life depictions teeming with domestic details and psychological insights. Portraying people from communities in which she lives and works—including her students, former Yale classmates, and street vendors and neighbors near her home in Harlem—Casteel creates scenes that combine the informality of a snapshot with the nobility of an official portrait. Her richly colorful works tap into ongoing conversations about portraiture in relation to race, gender, and subjectivity, connecting her practice to the legacy of artists like Alice Neel and Faith Ringgold.
Casteel’s subjects, often black men who look directly at the viewer, are self-possessed and casually posed but, as they stare into the distance, they also seem to ponder questions about masculinity and class, belonging and displacement. In the exchange of gazes between the sitters, the artist, and the viewers, her paintings compose a nuanced portrait of daily life in the US.
This exhibition is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by the New Museum, which includes interviews with the artist conducted by Massimiliano Gioni and Thelma Golden, and newly commissioned texts by Dawoud Bey, Lauren Haynes, and Amanda Hunt.
Daiga Grantina: What Eats Around Itself
January 21–May 17, 2020
Daiga Grantina creates large-scale sculptural assemblages that emulate the natural world. Her labored configurations employ synthetic materials and incorporate conflicting physical qualities: soft and hard, transparent and opaque, mobile and static, strong and weak.
The exhibition’s title refers to the dynamic properties of lichen, a composite organism that results from the symbiosis between fungi and algae. Grantina draws inspiration from lichen’s many adaptive qualities, like coexistence and self-replication, to devise her material processes. For her New Museum presentation, the artist premieres a new site-specific sculptural installation that interweaves cast silicone with paint, latex, fabric, and felt. Suspended from wooden planks and clinging to the gallery walls and floor, this work mimics the growth of lichen, which typically develops into a crusty, leaflike, or branching formation. The work’s amorphous structure appears to undergo construction and decomposition at once, much as lichen reproduces and consumes its own biological matter.
This exhibition is curated by Helga Christoffersen, Executive Director, Art Hub Copenhagen, and former New Museum Associate Curator. Learn more about New Museum here.