Unfolding a chronological path through 50 years of art history, this exhibition begins with postwar abstraction, moves on to the historical and visual provocation of “alternative modernisms,” and ends in the swarming and seductive experiments of the 1980s and 1990s.
The Shape of Time begins with postwar American and European abstraction. This installation of High Modernist painting and sculpture presents moments of classicism and radicality in the work of a selection of artists, including Lucio Fontana, Alberto Giacometti, Ellsworth Kelly, Franz Kline, Barnett Newman, Isamu Noguchi, Ad Reinhardt, and Mark Rothko.
Exploring in depth the turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s and the concurrent spirit of liberation and experimentation, this section offers a comprehensive survey of aesthetic practices aimed at subverting the conventions of painting and sculpture, as well as art-making in general: Japanese Gutai, Viennese Actionism, Italian Arte Povera, and the international Fluxus movement. Artists include Alighiero Boetti, Bruce Conner, David Hammons, Yves Klein, Marisa Merz, Hermann Nitsch, Nam June Paik, Giulio Paolini, Dieter Roth, Kazuo Shiraga, Atsuko Tanaka, and Hannah Wilke.
This section of the exhibition contains a selection of the Walker’s Pop art holdings as well as landmark works by two of the movement’s progenitors—Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Centered on an ensemble of Andy Warhol “grocery carton” sculptures, the installation also features work by Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg. Multidisciplinary experimentation is represented by Walkaround Time, a stage set created by Jasper Johns for a dance choreographed by Merce Cunningham.
Variations on Convention
The last gallery belongs to the complexity and diversity of the art of the 1980s and 1990s. A cross-generational installation demonstrates, through painting and sculpture, figuration and abstraction, that cultural and critical inquiry can live happily together with lyrical sensuality. Artists represented in this section include Chuck Close, Robert Gober, Sherrie Levine, Glenn Ligon, Richard Prince, Lorna Simpson, and Christopher Wool.