Sarah Rose Sharp 2017-11-29 11:25:55
Almost half a century after it began showcasing pioneering contemporary work, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland shows no signs of slowing down with “A Poet*hical Wager.” Nearly 50 years ago, Cleveland led Midwestern efforts to establish an alternative contemporary art space modeled on the German concept of the Kunsthalle. Now known as the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, it was founded in 1968 by artworld pioneers Marjorie Talalay, Nina Sundell and Agnes Gund. “The museum started by exhibiting work from contemporary artists who were then emerging: Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg,” says Gund. “Today it is more relevant than ever, exhibiting influential artists such as Ursula von Rydingsvard, Tauba Auerbach and Hank Willis Thomas, to name a few. It plays a crucial role in Ohio’s cultural landscape and increasingly partakes in an international art-world discussion.” As announced at a recent gala to honor MOCA Cleveland’s 50th-anniversary year in 2019, the collector Toby Devan Lewis has made a significant gift to create a prize that will be awarded every two years over the next decade to an emerging artist selected by an international jury, accompanied by an exhibition of commissioned work, a scholarly catalogue and a cash award of $50,000. The first exhibit will be mounted in 2019. The current show “A Poet*hical Wager,” organized by senior curator Andria Hickey, continues to uphold the institution’s tradition of asking complex, thought-provoking questions within the contemporary art conversation. “Its concept was inspired by observing the way objects operate in public space, outside of the contextualization that a museum can provide,” says Hickey, “and realizing that the walls of the museum really function so strongly in terms of telling you what kind of art you’re looking at.” Examining form, context and hidden intention, the show features work from international artists such as Iran’s Abbas Akhavan, Mexico’s Abraham Cruzvillegas, Italy’s Lara Favaretto, Egypt’s Iman Issa, Colombia’s Oscar Murillo, the United States’ Rashid Johnson and Ethiopia’s Tariku Shiferaw. “A Poet*hical Wager” is on view at MOCA Cleveland through January 28, 2018
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