This Exhibition Has Ended

June 24, 2017
August 20, 2017
In the wing and Opatrny Galleries, Floor 2L

Whether highlighting a single artist’s trajectory over time, or merging the communal efforts of multiple artists around a unified theme or to commemorate a specific occasion, the portfolio as genre conceptualizes and presents works—principally prints and photographs—in a way that privileges a collective over an individual approach.

This exhibition draws from the Johnson’s permanent collection to showcase contemporary portfolios—many never before shown in their entirety at the Museum—that tackle a broad range of subject matter and exhibit a variety of artistic strategies. Shared concerns across the seemingly disparate portfolios include ideas of chance, sequence, material, and artistic process. 

Multiartist portfolios in particular often memorialize events or foster solidarity, as is the case of Chile 11 Septembre—11 Latino-Américains, commissioned to raise funds for Chilean students in France impacted by the US–backed military coup that ousted the government of Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973. In response to another September 11, Eric Fischl convened artists to reconsider the notion of “America” through mobile exhibitions and engagement with communities across the nation in his America: Now + Here project. Photographer Gilles Peress similarly takes a socially engaged approach in the Flashpoints portfolio, which highlights four of his most celebrated international human rights projects. Joyce J. Scott brings more local—yet still universal—issues to the fore in the poignant Soul Erased portfolio. 

Other portfolios take a more introspective approach, as in Marisol Escobar’s Suite of Six Lithographs, where progressive additions of colors build out the image to reveal an intimate scene of a couple surrounded by a proliferation of hands. 

Challenges posed by the limitations of gallery space as well as a need to avoid the overhandling of fragile, unmatted works on paper (typically stored in boxes or cases without additional protection) have prevented many portfolios from being exhibited previously, at least not as a complete set. Nonetheless, the Johnson continues to actively acquire portfolios: Mark Dion’s Herbarium, Dayanita Singh’s Museum of Chance Bookcase, Scott’s Soul Erased, and the group portfolio America: Now + Here all entered the collection within the last year. 

Sonja Gandert
Curatorial assistant

Andrea Inselmann
Curator of modern and contemporary art & photography