This catalogue examines the ways 29 artists have invoked silence to shape space and consciousness over the last century. The paintings, drawing, sculptures, installations, performances, and sound works included take silence as a subject matter or medium and explore it as symbol, memorial device, or oppressive force. It includes modern masters like Marcel Duchamp and Réne Magritte; artists who matured in the 1960s and ’70s such as Bruce Nauman and Marcel Broodthaers; documentation of Tehching Hsieh’s One Year Performance 1978–79; Andy Warhol’s Electric Chair paintings and Christian Marclay’s works based on the “Silence” sign depicted; and younger artists such as Jennie C. Jones and Jacob Kierkegaard. The essays examine not only silence in art but also humanist approaches to the subject and its historical depiction and interpretation.
About the Authors
Toby Kamps is curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection. He previously worked as a curator in San Diego and Cincinnati and at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, where he mounted the acclaimed exhibition The Old, Weird America (2008). His recent projects at the Menil include the Wols retrospective (2014).
Steve Seid is video curator at the Berkeley Art Museum’s Pacific Film Archive, where he has fostered a rich media arts program. He has engaged with various art forms as researcher, critic, consultant, and curator for nearly four decades.
Jenni Sorkin is an assistant professor of University of California, Santa Barbara. She has been working on a book examining gender, artistic labor, and post–World War II ceramics.