Chryssa & New York

Sep 29, 2023 – Mar 10, 2024
Main Building

This exhibition presents the innovative art made by the Greek-born artist Chryssa (1933–2013) while she was living in New York City from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. Renowned for her adoption of industrial process, found commercial materials and early work with neon light, she stands at the forefront of American art in the wake of World War II. Responding to her urban environment, she was particularly interested in the intersection of art and everyday life.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is The Gates to Times Square, 1966, on loan from the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. Restored for this show, the towering sculpture of neon and metal pays homage to the commercial signage and dazzling lights of New York City’s famous intersection, a space that inspired the artist throughout her career. The presentation will also include neon studies related to The Gates, large-scale text-based paintings, and sculptural works that harness natural light and were influenced by ancient Mediterranean art.

This exhibition, which brings together major loans from North American and European museums and collections, is co-organized by the Menil Collection, Houston, and Dia Art Foundation, New York. It is the first major survey of the artist’s work in the United States in more than fifty years and will be accompanied by a scholarly publication edited by exhibition cocurators Michelle White and Megan Witko.  Following its presentation in New York and Houston, the exhibition will travel to Wrightwood 659, Chicago.

Chryssa & New York is co-organized by the Menil Collection, Houston, and Dia Art Foundation. The exhibition is co-curated by Michelle White, Senior Curator, the Menil Collection, and Megan Holly Witko, External Curator, Dia Art Foundation.

Major funding for this exhibition is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation; and a gift in memory of Virginia P. Rorschach. Additional support comes from Julie and John Cogan, Jr.; Suzanne Deal Booth; Clare Casademont and Michael Metz; Jereann and Holland Chaney; Barbara and Michael Gamson; Janet and Paul Hobby; Dillon Kyle and Sam Lasseter; Evy, Christina, and Eleni Pappas; Susanne and William E. Pritchard III; MaryRoss Taylor; the Susan Vaughan Foundation; and the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.

The publication is made possible by generous support from the Anthony E. Comninos Foundation, and additional support by Katherine Embiricos and Christos Papazis.

Major support for the exhibition catalogue is provided by the Menil Collection Publishing Fund.

About the Artist

Born in Athens, Chryssa studied art in Paris and briefly at the California School of Fine Art, San Francisco, before settling in New York City in the late 1950s.  In 1961, Chryssa’s first exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, was followed by a solo exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. At the time, she was considered a leading artist of her generation and her early work with neon technology remains at the forefront of light art. Chryssa’s work has been exhibited at numerous Documentas, Kassel, Germany; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Buffalo AKG Art Museum; and the Tate Modern, London, among other institutions.
Chryssa & New York at the Menil Collection, Houston. Video: Jay Clark Films
Sign of the Times: A Conversation on Neon and Chryssa | The Menil Collection, Houston. | February 8, 2024