Ballet of Heads: The Figure in the Collection

Event has passed (Fri May 17, 2013 - Sun Aug 25, 2013)
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)


The human figure has been a locus of artistic innovation and expression since the very first artworks were made. This focused presentation mines the permanent collection, bringing together paintings, sculptures, and works on paper that demonstrate the inexhaustible variety and texture of the human form in art. Seeking to explore the polymorphous nature of the figure, Ballet of Heads puts into dialogue the Baroque canvases of Peter Paul Rubens, the American Regionalism of Thomas Hart Benton, the colorful near abstractions of Asger Jorn and Hans Hofmann, the sharp angles and loose contours of George Grosz and Max Beckmann, the tormented personages of Francis Bacon, and the humorous critique found in the drawings of Raymond Pettibon.

The exhibition takes as its point of departure the work of Nicole Eisenman, on view in MATRIX 248, teasing out many of the threads found in her paintings and works on paper—a blending of seemingly oppositional categories such as social realism, abstraction, folk art, and popular comics—and contextualizing it in the process. Eisenman cites many of the artists included as important influences, such as Théodore Géricault and Pablo Picasso, while the work of more recent artists, including as Joan Brown, Abraham Walkowitz, and Sue Coe, share striking affinities to Eisenman’s own.