Bruce Conner in the 1970s
November 7 – December 19, 2009
One of America’s greatest multi-media artists, Bruce Conner, died last year in his home in San Francisco. He had first moved there in 1957 and it was there that he created his influential film work A MOVIE in 1958 (Collection of the Library of Congress, Washington, DC); it was there that he made many of his great found object assemblages (such as his notorious CHILD assemblage of 1959), and it was there that he spent the decade of the 1970s. This period found Conner in both constant flux and enormous creativity.
The Michael Kohn Gallery is honored to present an exhibition of this great artist’s works, “Bruce Conner from the 1970s.” This show has been organized with a keen curatorial edge, crisply defining an elusive yet important period of Conner’s work when he produced some of his most important historical works on paper, conceptual works of art, paintings, photographs, lithographs and films.
In 1970-71 Conner produced an extensive series of lithographs that documented in part many of the “Felt-tip Pen” works on paper, and this rarely seen group of works will also be included in this exhibition.
Related to these densely filled drawings is a small group of paintings that Conner created in the mid-1970s. These works show Conner’s awareness of Minimalist art of the period while the extensively patterned, painted surface reinforces an important aspect of artist’s oeuvre.
Conner was particularly productive with photography during the late 1970s when he shot a body of work featuring bright color images (in contrast to his frequent use of black and white) of punk bands performing at the legendary Mabuhay Gardens in S.F. This exhibition will show, for the first time, rare, unique, large-scale PUNK photographs along with a unique large-scale image from another series shot in 1978, LATE NIGHT MOVIE.
Bruce Conner finished, in 1973, a film titled MARILYN TIMES FIVE that will be played on a loop in its own viewing room as part of the show. Featuring repetitive cuts and edits from a “blue” movie from the 1950s of a famous Monroe look-alike, Arline Hunter, Conner puts music to this rare collage film. After the soundtrack plays for the fifth and final time, the viewer has gone from titillation to numbness, as Conner emotionally manipulates the viewer from beginning to end.
“Bruce Conner in the 1970s” is the first exhibition to examine a specific historical period of work by the artist. It will allow the public to see how this great artist from the second half of the 20th century was indeed a great American artist. While Minimalism and Conceptualism were happening in the greater art world, Bruce Conner displayed his own voice and ultimately created deeply moving, nearly mystical works of art.