Robert Cumming: The Secret Life of Objects

February 18–May 28, 2017, Main Galleries

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    Caption: 

    Robert Cumming (American, b. 1943). Theater for Two, Easy Analogies, 1978. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the artist. © Robert Cumming

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    Caption: 

    Robert Cumming (American, b. 1943). Watermelon and Chair, 1982. Archival pigment ink print. Courtesy of the artist. © Robert Cumming

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    Caption: 

    Robert Cumming (American, b. 1943). Mishap of Minor Consequence, 1973. Gelatin silver prints. Courtesy of the artist. © Robert Cumming

Perception, language, and the nuances of photographic vision are common themes in the work of Robert Cumming (American, b. 1943). His method of portraying the physically impossible so that it appears visually accurate has its roots in his early career as a painter, sculptor, performance artist, and mail artist. This exhibition traces the trajectory of Cumming’s work through several decades and focuses on his singular appreciation for the power of objects in art.

In his photographic work—the majority of which he made in Southern California during the 1970s—Cumming embraced the illusion and reality of the medium: that photographs can spin artifice regardless of how true they appear. By intentionally including studio lighting, wires, and messy elements of construction, or “a means by which one can unravel the fabrication,” he creates visual narratives that unfold over time.

With a focus on his work from the 1970s, the exhibition features Cumming’s photographs of ingenious fictions using mundane materials, as well as other non-photographic works: sculpture, mail art, printmaking, painting, and objects from the artist’s ongoing exploration of nautical architecture.

Guest curated by Sarah Bay Gachot, this is the first major museum survey in nearly twenty years dedicated to Robert Cumming’s exceptional photographic projects.

 

Robert Cumming: The Secret Life of Objects is supported by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Related Events

Friday, February 17, 2017, 6 p.m.

Special Events | Exhibition Preview: Robert Cumming

Join us for a preview of Robert Cumming: The Secret Life of Objects. Guest curator Sarah Bay Gachot will give remarks in the Dryden Theatre, and artist Robert Cumming will be present.

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