Untitled (History Painting): Painting and Public Life in the 21st Century

May 23 through September 20, 2009

The use and translation of photographic imagery is perhaps the most significant development in painting of the past half century. At the same time, photographic media have long since taken over the representation of real-world events, both contemporary and historical. Untitled (History Painting): Painting and Public Life in the 21st Century investigates painting’s continuing viability as a means of addressing historical events and how they are represented in a culture dominated by photographic and digital media. The artists in the exhibition are united both by their use of photographic (or cinematic) source material drawn from the public sphere and by their engagement with questions of historical representation and collective memory. Devoted exclusively to work produced since the year 2000, the exhibition makes no attempt to be comprehensive. Instead, the exhibition charts one constellation of positions at the intersection of painting, photography, and the public imagination. Rather than simply illustrating the impact of photography or current events on contemporary painting, these positions represent an active, critical engagement with some of the most pressing issues facing artists and viewers today.

This exhibition is made possible in part by the University of Michigan Office of the Provost.