Polly Apfelbaum, 2003, installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University
This is the first large museum survey of visual artist Polly Apfelbaum. Polly Apfelbaum creates what she calls “fallen paintings,” hybrid works of rare beauty that exist in a contentious, ambivalent space between painting, sculpture, and installation. Often arranged on the floor, spreading around corners in indeterminate shapes, Apfelbaum’s overall forms are comprised of intricate, nearly psychedelic layers of dyed fabric, as if myriad smaller paintings have accreted or grown from a central cluster of shapes and colors. Apfelbaum is known for her palate of stunning, eye-popping colors and hues. These works transform the colors of mass culture—of television, saturated magazine ads, bags of Wonder Bread—into wild, oscillating spectra bordering on the organic. Dusk red blots fan rows of yellow leaves; teardrop shapes of black nudge indigo forms resembling paramecium, single-cells, or algae blooms. Apfelbaum’s are paintings of ideas, certainly, but the concepts that drive her practice are ones of the body and of hungry-looking, rather than dry, exercises of the intellect or morality. As painting pushes past its traditional disciplinary forms, off the wall, and into pop culture, Apfelbaum’s work calls for audiences to think about the pleasure of aesthetic experience—and to experience the pleasure of aesthetics.
Following its opening at ICA, this exhibition travelled to the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati, Ohio and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri.
Dedication Monuments: Alex Da Corte and First Among EqualsPolly Apfelbaum
Includes an interview with Apfelbaum by Claudia Gould.
Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania
ICA acknowledges the generous funding support awarded by The Buddy Taub Foundation;
the Peter Norton Family Foundation; Altria Group, Inc.; the Artists and Scholars
Program of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts
and administered by the University of the Arts; The Ford Family Foundation; and
Stephen B. Klein. ICA is also grateful for the generous support of the members of
ICAs New York Leadership Circle: Christopher J. Carrera Foundation; Ashley & Jason
Bernhard; Cecile & Christopher DAmelio; Karen Finerman; Virginia & David Ford;
Glenn R. Fuhrman; James N. Gray Foundation; Katherine Greenberg; Amy Segal & Phillipe
Heilberg; K. Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc.; Janedesign, Inc.; Craig Beresin; Anurag
Bhargava; Paula & Robert Hoy; Nicole & Michael Kubin; Eric S. Lane; Marc Lisker;
Ladd McQuade; Amy & John Phelan; Pamela & Arthur Sanders; The Right Stuff Foundation;
Daniel C. Scheffey; Joey & Christopher Schlank; Victoria Voytek & Robert Fogelson;
& Candace Worth. Additional support has been provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith
Foundation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Dietrich Foundation
Inc., the William Penn Foundation, William G. Butler, Chris Mattsson, the Overseers
Board for the Institute of Contemporary Art, friends and members of ICA, and the
University of Pennsylvania.