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Todd Schorr: Atomic Cocktail

Exhibition Overview 

Artist Todd Schorr has earned broad recognition as a master painter. The style and influences of his complex narrative painting have been attributed from a multitude of sources from Northern Renaissance to 18th and 19th century Romantic painters. Schorr combines a complex contemporary imagery with an illustrative style. His intricate narratives are both relevant and relatable. Todd Schorr: Atomic Cocktail takes a closer look at the connection between the synthesis of visual culture from the artist’s childhood and his current pictorial language. Popular culture clearly had a significant impact on young Schorr. From the beginning of the nuclear age, signs, logos, cartoon characters, monsters and mascots have all worked to create a massive societal spectacle. Madison Avenue and both television and cinema have had a profound effect on Western culture’s visual language. Schorr paintings feel like both an exorcism and celebration of that culture.

Like other masters in the arc of art history, Schorr culls the signs of our culture and places them in a new context: Tony the Tiger, Bob’s Big Boy, and Smokey the Bear become joined as part of a firebreathing Hydra. Aliens, as movie Western Indians, ride across a desert plain. A primitive hominid gathers Betty Boop, Batman, and Howdy Doody in a sack like an ancient Santa Claus. Often, amid these spectacles, idles a small boy, acting as avatar for the artist.

This exhibition will highlight a mix of Schorr’s iconic paintings, new works that have never been shown to the public as well as sculpture, and preparatory studies. It will explore, in depth, Schorr’s critical dialogue of Western visual culture as it impacted his own visual lexicon and ours.

Biography: 

Todd Schorr was born in New Jersey in 1954.  He attended the Philadelphia College of Art (University of the Arts) and graduated with a degree in illustration. He began work as an illustrator while in college. Upon graduation in 1976, Schorr moved to New York City to begin his professional illustration career. His oeuvre included album covers, movie posters and magazine covers. AC/DC,  George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, and Time magazine were some of his clients.

In the mid-eighties, Schorr began his break from illustration so he could focus on his fine art painting. He took part in the 1986 landmark exhibition American Pop Culture Images Today at the Laforet Museum in Tokyo, Japan. This set him on a path that allowed him to end his illustration career. In 1992, Schorr had first solo show at the Tamara Bane Gallery in Los Angeles. Schorr and his wife relocated to Los Angeles in 1999. Today, Schorr  is represented by KP Projects Gallery, has exhibitions and is in collections all over the world

Todd Schorr: Atomic Cocktail is organized by the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and curated by Heather Hakimzadeh and co-curated by Alison Byrne. The exhibition will open at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art on Friday, September 21, 2018 and will travel to additional museums thereafter. 

Exhibition Tour

Crocker Art MuseumJune 28 - October 18, 2020.  

For more information please contact Alison Byrne, Director of Exhibitions and Education. Alison@VirginiaMOCA.org  

Inka Essenhigh: A Fine Line

Exhibition Overview

Through her painting, Inka Essenhigh provides an authentic voice. Since her emergence into the art world during the late 1990’s, she has created a path for herself that consistently questions and redefines her relationship with her media. She has moved from using enamel paint to traditional oils and back; creating hybrids of the two. Her substrates have included paper, canvas, and panels. Throughout each phase of experimentation, she created dialogues with her work, navigating how the media and brush interact, sometimes with genuine surprise at the result.

It is through this approach that Essenhigh’s dazzling works are borne. Her signature use of line follows her experimentation, keeping them grounded and giving them continuity. Swirls of light lead us up to a heavenly night sky. A yellow beanstalk makes a frenzied vertical climb, snagging a golden crown with blue jewel as it grows. Anthropomorphic condominiums break from their moorings. An old cemetery emerges from a hazy gloom.

Each scene is vastly different, yet they all clearly belong to Essenhigh. Her elegant line defines space, rejecting the straight and embracing the curvy, the organic. They are fantastic visions rooted in the quotidian.  The narratives find inspiration from her environs. Essenhigh spends time both in New York City and rural Maine. Both settings find their way into the artist's consciousness, becoming manifest in allegory. Ghosts and gods, monsters and maenads edge their way onto her picture plane. They are the forces that shape her world. Each painting and print is a moment of distilled vision and the emotions that accompany them. The full expression of a 21st century human; hope, anxiety, and everything in between. 

This exhibition will present 25-30 works from the range of mediums that the artist has explored. She gained early renown through her use of enamels and a process that included the use of automatic drawing to find her subject matter. Her evolution led her back into traditional oils and experiments in printmaking.

Inka Essenhigh studied at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio (1991) and the School of Visual Arts in New York (1992-1994). The public collections that hold her work including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; P.S.1 Center for Contemporary Art/ MoMA, New York, NY; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; Tate Gallery, London, England; Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA; the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, DC; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. The artist currently lives and works in New York City.

Exhibition Tour

Kalamazoo Institute of ArtsSeptember 15, 2018 through January 6, 2019. 

For more information please contact Alison Byrne, Director of Exhibitions and Education. Alison@VirginiaMOCA.org  

PAST TRAVELING EXHIBITIONS

turn the page: the first ten years of hi-fructose

Exhibition Tour 

Exhibition Overview

The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) will feature some of the foremost contemporary artists through a ten year retrospective of the art magazine, Hi-Fructose. This exhibition is a unique opportunity to bring a broad spectrum of artwork by over 50 artists from the pages of magazines and computer screens to the walls of a contemporary art museum dedicated to educating on the significant art of today. Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose is a collaborative initiative by two like-minded organizations – MOCA in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Hi-Fructose The New Contemporary Art Magazine in San Francisco, California. Both are committed to creating an awareness of contemporary art that is informative, imaginative and relevant. This multi-faceted exhibition will feature artists working in a variety of media including sculpture, installation, painting, ceramics, and photography as well as interactive community outreach and satellite exhibitions. A wide selection of educational programming, film screenings, panel discussions, and events will provide the public an opportunity to interact with the art and artists in exciting new ways.

 

Vik Muniz: Poetics of Perception

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA): January 31 - April 27, 2014

Exhibition Tour  

Exhibition Overview

Internationally recognized for his startling use of materials, Vik Muniz creates stunning images, while investigating the history of art and of visual reproduction. By employing diverse objects such as toys, diamonds, industrial garbage, and minute magazine clippings, Muniz creates tableaus which are preserved through photographic reproduction. Attuned to the history of image-making, Muniz's complex compositions investigate the nature of visual cognition, and promise to engage and inspire. This exhibition is organized by Virginia MOCA and guest curated by Carla Hanzal.

Carla Hanzal is an independent curator based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Hanzal previously served as the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Mint Museum (2002-2012) where she organized 40 exhibitions, including initiating the VantagePoint contemporary art series and the nationally-recognized exhibition, Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections. Prior to working at the Mint, Hanzal was curator of the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, now MOCA (1997-2002). 

BARNABY BARFORD

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) September 12 – December 29, 2013 

Exhibition Tour 

Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, Scotland June 13 - July 19, 2014

Exhibition Overview

Barnaby Barford examines the human condition through ceramic sculpture. Barford is known for his work with antique or mass-produced porcelain figures, which he recombines and reassembles into narrative sculpture with often dark comic titles and sardonic implications. Lively and thought-provoking, his sculptural narratives draw the viewer into his stories and, doing so, present portraits of our contemporary lives.

This exhibition is organized by MOCA and curated by Alison Byrne, Director of Exhibitions and Education at MOCA, and Andrée Cooke, Independent Curator based in London. A full-color catalogue was published in conjunction with the exhibition and documents the artists first solo exhibition in the United States.

 

Todd Schorr. Ape Worship, 2007. Acrylic on canvas. 96 x 120 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
Todd Schorr. Ape Worship, 2007. Acrylic on canvas. 96 x 120 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
Inka Essenhigh. Fairy Procession, 2016. 78x80 inches Oil and enamel on panel. Courtesy of the Artist
Inka Essenhigh. Fairy Procession, 2016. 78x80 inches Oil and enamel on panel. Courtesy of the Artist
Martin Wittfooth. Incantation. Oil on canvas, 2014. Courtesy of the artist. Featured in Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose.
Martin Wittfooth. Incantation. Oil on canvas, 2014. Courtesy of the artist. Featured in Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose.
Vik Muniz. Poetics of Perception Installation View. Art © Vik Muniz / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Vik Muniz. Poetics of Perception Installation View. Art © Vik Muniz / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Barnaby Barford Invite. Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh
Barnaby Barford Invite. Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh