Luhring Augustine is pleased to present Shapeshifters, a group exhibition including works by Joe Bradley, Jeremy DePrez, Jeff Elrod, Ron Gorchov, Ralph Humphrey, Martin Kippenberger, Imi Knoebel, Robert Mangold, Jeremy Moon, Elizabeth Murray, Kenneth Noland, David Novros, Blinky Palermo, Steven Parrino, Joanna Pousette-Dart, Ruth Root, Frank Stella, Philip Taaffe, and Richard Tuttle.
The exhibition takes its name from the mythological phenomenon known as “shapeshifting,” in which an object or being is capable of assuming another form. The works in this exhibition evoke this phenomenon by deviating from the standard rectilinear format of the frame and defying succinct categorization as paintings. In creating these works, the artists used various techniques including altering the outline of the canvas, building up relief, cutting into the plane, and using materials alternate to traditional canvas as support.
Shaped canvas works became popular in the 1960s as artists sought to emphasize the potential for paintings to be considered objects. Recognizing this movement, curator Lawrence Alloway organized the definitive exhibition The Shaped Canvas at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1964. Alloway presented works by five artists he recognized to be the primary protagonists of this movement, one of whom was Frank Stella. Shapeshifters includes a piece by Stella from that period, along with Richard Tuttle’s 1967 Red Brown Canvas, a late ‘60s multipart work by David Novros, and a rarely seen ‘60s work by the late British artist Jeremy Moon.
The works in this exhibition explore the way that this subgenre of painting has evolved in the work of artists who may identify as painters, but who explore the space between painting and sculpture. While early practitioners such as Robert Mangold embraced a minimal sensibility, the next generation of artists such as Elizabeth Murray and Ralph Humphrey further evolved the practice; Murray’s canvases are explosive and energetic, and Humphrey’s paintings are tactile, with thick and textured surfaces. Contemporary artists such as Jeff Elrod, Jeremy DePrez, and Ruth Root continue to investigate these ideas by using a variety of methods and mediums. Elrod uses the computer to render imagery, questioning the importance of the handmade mark on the canvas; DePrez’s work is illusionistic and optically challenging; and Root’s paintings integrate patterned textiles and varied surface textures.