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Acclaimed artist Nancy Grossman discusses her powerful new book, Nancy Grossman: Tough Life Diary. She is joined by the Tang Museum’s Associate Director Ian Berry for an in-depth conversation and audience Q&A.
From the book Nancy Grossman: Tough Life DiaryThis new retrospective publication presents five decades of Nancy Grossman’s powerful work. The artist’s work continually returns to the human body and the charged relationships that make up our world. She began as a painter in the late 1950s, working in a style that combined the energy of Abstract Expressionism with figuration. In the mid-1960s, she began incorporating found leather and metal parts into chaotic and explosive wall reliefs. Coming of age in the 1960s, Grossman was painfully aware of the condescending environment in which she and many women artists worked. Soon she began carving life-like human heads and covering them with black leather—a body of work she continued to create until the early-1990s. Alongside her three-dimensional art, Grossman has consistently created masterful drawings and revealing collages that give presence to emotional and physical struggle. This retrospective volume surveys all aspects of Nancy Grossman’s independent and inspiring career. It is published to coincide with a major exhibition at the Tang Museum.
Copies of the book are available for purchase and signing at the event.
From the book Nancy Grossman: Tough Life DiaryFor over five decades, Nancy Grossman has created a powerful body of work that combines exquisite craftsmanship and uncompromising tenacity with a long-standing exploration of the nature of violence and power. Including drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, assemblage, and sculpture, her artwork bravely investigates the tumultuous, psychologically charged situations that form our intimate relationships and influence our society’s larger actions. From 1957 to 1962, Grossman studied at Pratt Institute, where she received her BFA. In 1964 at only twenty-three, she had her first solo exhibition at New York’s Krasner Gallery and by 1967 her work was featured in three additional solo shows at the gallery. In a 1969 solo exhibition at New York’s Cordier and Ekstrom Gallery, Grossman first exhibited her life-size leather covered heads, a body of work she would continue through the mid-1990s. Carved out of wood and tautly covered with leather (often recycled from old leather jackets), Grossman’s sculptural heads “blew conventional images of femininity to smithereens,” as critic Holland Cotter noted. A range of selections from Grossman’s rich body of work were shown together for the first time in a 1990 survey organized by Long Island University’s Hillwood Art Museum. Ten years later, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery organized the retrospective exhibition, Nancy Grossman: Loud Whispers. Her work has been included in numerous important group exhibitions around the world including the recent exhibitions: Skin is a Language, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, 1965-1980, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Third Mind, Palais de Tokyo, Paris; and Reconfiguring the Body in American Art, 1820-2009, National Academy Museum of Art, New York; Nancy Grossman: Heads at Museum of Modern Art, New York. Nancy Grossman: Tough Life Diary, the artist’s most extensive survey to date, was on view at the Tang Museum at Skidmore College in early 2012.
From the book Nancy Grossman: Tough Life DiaryIan Berry is Associate Director and Malloy Curator of The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. Berry has curated over seventy museum exhibitions including The Jewel Thief (with Jessica Stockholder, 2010); Amazement Park: Stan, Sara and Johannes VanDerBeek (2009); Twice Drawn (with Jack Shear, 2006); Living with Duchamp (2003); and solo presentations of works by Nayland Blake, Kathy Butterly, Nicole Eisenman, Nancy Grossman, Paula Hayes, Oliver Herring, Jim Hodges, Martin Kersels, Los Carpinteros, Amy Sillman, and Kara Walker. His recent publications include America Starts Here: Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler (MIT Press, 2006), Dario Robleto: Alloy of Love (University of Washington Press, 2008), Fred Tomaselli (Prestel, 2009), Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: A History (MIT Press, 2009), and Lives of the Hudson (Prestel, 2010).
In its fourth year the program series An Art Book, initiated and organized by Arezoo Moseni, is a celebration of the essential importance and beauty of art books. The events showcase book presentations and discussions by world renowned artists, critics, curators, gallerists, historians and writers.