Albany Museum of Art

Albany, Georgia



The Human Factor: Figuration in American Art, 1950 - 1995


The human form has a long history as measure of our intent. Each age has investigated the body as an artistic object applying the beliefs and values of their own time. Until the Abstract Expressionist movement, the human figure had been a dominant subject in Western art. However in the development of modern art, the image of man has been transformed, distorted, and has almost disappeared as a subject in much of the most important artistic expression of the period. Yet, the last quarter of the 20th century has witnessed a return to the human figure by many contemporary artists as a valid subject and an important vehicle for self-discovery and self-definition against the velocity of change in our world.

Albany Museum of Art will present The Human Factor: Figuration in American Art, 1950 - 1995, which opens in the Haley Gallery on December 7, 2000 and runs through February 4, 2001. This selection of paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings are from the extensive collections of the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Dr. Daniel Siedell, Curator, provides a mini survey of many aesthetics, issues, and ideas contained within the figurative idiom of the United States over the past several decades.

The exhibition reflects the change in focus of the human figure as subject matter in contemporary art from modernist tradition, which primarily relied upon the sensory and physical properties of form to shift in sensibility where the human figure functions as a narrative and physiological vehicle reflecting the human condition within a social and political context. Each artist uses the human figure as a common vehicle through which they express personal and aesthetic issues alluding to the human condition of our time.

Stylistically these fifty works trace the recurring human imagery in contemporary art from the painterly tradition of Alice Neel's portraiture to Fairfield Porter's domestic interiors, to the studio nudes of Philip Pearlstein, to Bay area figuration of David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, and Manuel Neri. Also included are the "pop" imagery of Mel Ramos and George Segal, the graffiti images of Keith Haring, the realism of Alfred Leslie, and the figurative sculptures of Robert Graham. The pieces range from a later generation of "new imagists" such as Joel Shapiro and Judith Shea to more recent content charged figuration of Susan Rothenberg, Robert Longo, and Eric Fischl. (left: Fairfield Porter, Anne, Lizzie and Katie, oil on canvas, 1958)

The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln has organized The Human Factor: Figuration in American Art, 1950 - 1995 with the assistance of Smith Kramer, Inc., a fine art service company in Kansas City, Missouri. This exhibition will travel to approximately fifteen museums across the United States over the span of three years.

Read more about the Albany Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine.

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/6/11

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