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Exhibition - Unfurled: Supports/Surfaces 1966-1976

Saturday, Apr 20, 2019 at 11:00am

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
4454 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI 48201

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit will present the first exhibition in the Midwest and most comprehensive show to date of the French art movement Supports/Surfaces. This group of fourteen artists, along with several others who were closely affiliated, lived and worked in the south of France, producing artwork marked by an interest in materiality, a lyrical use of color and expansive ideas of what constitutes a painting. French society was undergoing social protests and upheavals in the 1960s that mirrored the civil rights and anti-war movements in the USA. The Supports/Surfaces artists sought new forms and methods to reflect their times: standard art materials were dropped in favor of homespun non-art materials (bed sheets, rope, dish rags) and figuration was replaced by loose, permeable grids that hinted at a more democratic method of art-making and a proposal for humane society.

Although working abstractly, these artists shared a deeply political approach to making and showing art. The fact that they were based outside Paris was already a counter-institutional thing to do in an extremely centralized country like France. They purposefully sought small towns in the south to do impromptu, temporary shows. They often abandoned the art and moved on to the next place to create another “exhibition”. They displayed art in bars, river banks, and on the walls of cities. Unfurled will employ similar strategies in the MOCAD exhibition space: hanging art from the rafters and employing an “all-over” approach to installation, using the original, historic pieces by these artists.

The Supports/Surfaces artists were responding to their times in ways similar to how artists are currently reacting to contemporary culture. France was actively urbanizing and industrializing during the time period that the work work in Unfurled was made and the artists were responding to these large-scale changes. The alienation felt from the loss of direct workmanship often fuels a simplicity and directness in studio practices, then and now. Daily utilitarian craft practices were being lost as people who formerly worked the land spent their days in factories; this reality was folded into Supports/Surfaces. Urban homesteaders and artists today are creating handmade plots of their own inside the faded dream of mass industrialization in Detroit and other American cities. It is the impulse to live and work with immediacy, agency, and ambition that is one of the bracing messages embedded in Unfurled: Supports/Surfaces 1966-1976.

Exhibition Date: February 1, 2019 - April 21, 2019

Images provided by AmericanTowns.com, Ticketmaster

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