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Rupturing Beauty

January 13, 2002

January 13, 2002 – February 23, 2002

In 1929 French writer Georges Bataille published an essay entitled “Formless,” consisting of a mere six sentences. At Hyde Park Art Center the group exhibition, Rupturing Beauty, curated by Chuck Thurow and Pat Swanson, investigated the influence of Bataille’s text by assembling together five artists whose work in some way demonstrated, contended with or elaborated Bataille’s ideas of “formless.” The exhibition raised questions about beauty, baseness, form and the use of varied materials in art by calling into question “conventional understandings and old distinctions between high and low, good and bad, fine and base, beautiful and ugly.” The artists in Rupturing Beauty challenged rather than rejected the notion of beauty, and did so with a formal elegance that made their disruptive effects all the more unsettling.




Marie K. Bergman, Shane Huffman, Michael Kiresuk, Jocelyn Nevel, and Frances Whitehead.



From Towards a New Definition of Strange by James Elkins. Exhibition catalogue for Rupturing Beauty, Hyde Park Art Center, 2001:


Marie Krane Bergman’s paintings are informed by [a post-minimalist] history—a history, as Stephen Melville says, in which painting can no longer go on being counted as it has been in the past, as a succession of individual exemplars or masterpieces. Instead painting has to remember that history, and acknowledge its impossibility (that is, it’s no longer possible for any single painting to exemplify Painting for any given moment), while at the same time working in such a way that “counting,” as Melville puts it, can continue as a possibility. Bergman’s paintings do that in an exemplary fashion, engaging the history of minimalism and also painting’s illusionistic past. They work “as painting” (Melville’s term again): as examples of what painting’s ambition can do, and what it has to leave behind. Bergman systematizes illusion as if it were a child who has misbehaved—regimenting, quantifying, and measuring out how illusion can work, and dispersing it (in an ultra-rational but private fashion) across several canvases and numbered projects. This is illusionism remembered as a machine, and minimalism practiced as a code: a very promising direction for painting, one with parallels to Duchamp’s utterly unbelievable but deeply professed interest in science.