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Friday 08.03.07

« Mostlandia Championships 2007 | Main | Below Marquam »

Camouflage opens at PAM on August 4th with debut of a new Hirst

Christopher Wool, I Smell a Rat, 1989-94. Alkyd and acrylic on aluminum. 72 x 48 inches. The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica.

I'm very excited about Camouflage at the Portland Art Museum, which opens this weekend. It is a show which focuses on the use of repeated pattern in wall based works over the last 30 years (one of my favorite art subjects).

Featuring a 37 foot wide Warhol titled, "Camouflage" and the public debut of a new Damien Hirst called, "The Kingdom of The Father," Camouflage is Portland's must see contemporary group show of the summer. This 8 painting show in the soaring Schnitzer Atrium space also includes works by Christopher Wool and the under-appreciated but worthy Philip Taaffe. The Hirst is one of his recent butterfly works and was comissioned by the Broad Arts Foundation. Hirst is known for his PR genuis but please also consider how he has mastered the art of presentation, which he put to less personal use as an installer for Anthony d'Offay before fame and fortune came his way. Warhol was also a master of this and its really fitting to see them here together.

This pragmatic but scholarly relevant exploration by chief curator Bruce Guenther began with the opportunity to show the Warhol from 1986 (lent by Eli Broad) and grew organically from there. I often find these opportunistic curatorial shows offer a lot more surprises than giant surveys that travel the museum circuit. This show reminds me a lot of Ornament and Abstraction at the ridiculously good Beyeler Foundation, whose corresponding catalog also wins my vote for, "best thematic art book produced in the last 30 years." It's that good... in fact, PAM's big Frank Stella, "Eskimo Curlew" is one of the images contained within its covers (though Im not much of a fan of that piece).

A lot of my friends rightfully complain that the Portland Art Museum's lack of large scale contemporary shows forces them to travel elsewhere to sustain their interests and I agree completely. It needs fixing (Ferriso and Guenther obviously know this), but this show does provide some big time art in an interesting scholarly context. It isn't a replacement for a major retrospective or survey show but it is very very welcome. (disclosure, I am the Vice President and Programming Chair for the Contemporary Art Council at PAM) When the 2004 Rosenquist retrospective didn't occur after Buchanan had announced it... it was a huge blow to the neglected contemporary community, we are still waiting (!!!contemporary people are not group known for patience) but word is something is coming. Since then smaller solo shows featuring; Pierre Huyghe, Damien Hirst, Chris Johanson, Roxy Paine and Sophie Calle with current shows by Kehinde Wiley and Wes Mills have helped and Camouflage may be just the thing the mass of pattern happy painters in Portland need to see.

Camouflage runs August 4th - November 4th 2007 at the Portland Art Museum.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 03, 2007 at 12:50 | Comments (0)


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