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Is it real? Lifelike invites a close examination of artworks based on commonplace objects and situations, which are startlingly realistic, often playful, and sometimes surreal. This international group exhibition features artists variously using scale, unusual materials, and sly contextual devices to reveal the manner in which their subjects’ “authenticity” is manufactured. Avoiding the brand-name flashiness embraced by 1960s Pop and the slick urban scenes introduced at that time by the Photorealists, the artists in Lifelike investigate the quieter side of the quotidian, choosing potentially overlooked items or moments as subject matter: a paper bag, an eraser, an apple core, a waiting room, an afternoon nap. They also favor a handmade, labor-intensive practice rather than technological enhancements. The resulting works—including painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, and video—transform the ordinary into something beguiling, loaded with narrative and metaphor, and imbued with an arresting sense of humanity.

Lifelike showcases works from the late 1960s to the present by 55 artists, including Vija Celmins, Keith Edmier, Fischli and Weiss, Robert Gober, Alex Hay, Kaz Oshiro, Charles Ray, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Ai Weiwei.

A Walker-produced catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Featuring painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, video, and installations by more than 50 artists, Lifelike is the first publication to address the recent history of artists using these strategies across media. With texts by Siri Engberg, Josiah McElheny, Michael Lobel, and Rochelle Steiner. Softcover, $40 ($36 Walker members).

Curator: Siri Engberg

Tour Schedule

  • New Orleans Museum of Art
    November 10, 2012–February 3, 2013
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego
    March 1–May 27, 2013
  • Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin
    June 23–September 22, 2013
  • Phoenix Museum of Art
    February 5–May 18, 2014

Lifelike is organized by the Walker Art Center.

Lead Sponsor

  • The Private Client Reserve – U.S. Bank

  • Major support for the exhibition is provided by John L. Thomson and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support is generously provided by Peggy and Ralph Burnet, Ellie and Tom Crosby, Jr., and Michael J. Peterman and David A. Wilson. Media partners Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and Star Tribune.

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