|Installation view: R. H. Quaytman: + x, Chapter 34, Solomon R.
Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 12, 2018–April 23, 2019. Photo:
David Heald. © 2018 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
(NEW YORK, NY—October 11, 2018)—The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents R. H. Quaytman: + x, Chapter 34, featuring a new group of paintings by contemporary artist R. H. Quaytman. This presentation is organized in tandem with Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, the
first exhibition devoted to Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) in the United
States since Quaytman organized a survey of the Swedish artist’s work
nearly thirty years ago at New York’s P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center.
Quaytman’s new paintings engage af Klint’s work through visual
quotations and conceptual references, offering a multifaceted
examination of af Klint’s output and legacy. R. H. Quaytman: + x, Chapter 34
is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in New York and features
twenty-eight paintings on the sixth level of the Guggenheim Museum’s
rotunda from October 12, 2018, through April 23, 2019. The exhibition is
organized by Tracey Bashkoff, Director of Collections and Senior
Curator, and David Horowitz, Curatorial Assistant.
In this chapter of paintings, Quaytman
has distilled af Klint’s groundbreaking formal strategies and
reconfigured her systematized imagery, thereby illuminating the ties
between af Klint’s radical divergence from artistic conventions and her
incorporation of scientific discoveries and visual styles, most notably
the diagram. Quaytman’s title evokes this rationalism by quoting the
familiar mathematical symbols that af Klint used esoterically in the
course of her radical artistic pursuits. The characters + × appear on
the first page of many of the roughly 125 notebooks left behind by af
Klint, in which she methodically documented her work, her
interpretations of its significance, and her spiritual experiences.
Quaytman’s interest in these symbols, and the notebooks in which they
appear, lies in what they imply about af Klint’s scientifically informed
approach to art making. Taking into account the dedication of the
Guggenheim’s founders to spiritually oriented abstraction, these new
works offer a reconsideration of the relationship between af Klint and
that movement. Quaytman simultaneously elaborates upon other
underrecognized aspects of af Klint’s work through references to gender,
landscape painting, violence, and the body, offering alternate ways to
consider af Klint and her practice.
Employing a variety of conceptual and
pictorial strategies, Quaytman explores the factors that enable a
painting to generate meaning, whether they be its content, context, or
mode of production. Works are organized into focused groups referred to
as “chapters,” which are sequentially numbered and uniquely titled. The
subject matter of each chapter is shaped in response to the particular
history, architecture, and local identity of the venue where it is first
shown. With few exceptions, individual paintings share their chapter’s
moniker. Paintings are executed on plywood panels with beveled edges and
conform to a consistent set of geometrically interrelated dimensions.
Despite these rigorously held consistencies, Quaytman’s work is not
reducible to a systematically applied set of rules. Instead the artist
uses these parameters to explore subjects as diverse as philosophy,
science, and art history, while maintaining an underlying formal and
conceptual unity that permeates each of the chapters, as well as the
ever-growing body of work they comprise. Quaytman’s decision to conceive
of this ongoing project, begun in 2001, was based on an awareness of af
Klint, who understood each of her paintings as part of a larger whole.
Curator’s Eye ToursThese gallery tours of Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future and R. H. Quaytman: + x, Chapter 34
provide an opportunity for visitors to explore the museum’s exhibitions
with an exhibition curator who shares expert knowledge of the work on
view. Tours interpreted in American Sign Language (ASL) are available
upon request. Free with museum admission. Limited capacity, advance
on-site registration is required. Registration opens one hour before the
tour at the Information desk. Check-in begins 15 minutes prior to the
start of the tour. For more information, visit guggenheim.org/calendar.
Wednesday, December 12, 12 pm: David Horowitz, Curatorial Assistant
Wednesday, January 23, 12 pm: Tracey Bashkoff, Director of Collections and Senior Curator