Despite the periodic ringing of the death knell for painting, this genre of art making is alive and well. An important reason for this is its continued evolution. Painters are bound to the traditions they inherit and know that in order to keep painting alive, push it forward, and agitate for its legitimacy, they must find ways to connect it to our times. The artist’s hand—the central protagonist in modern gestural painting—has become a primary reference point for many artists intent on rethinking painting. Artists from Robert Rauschenberg to Christopher Wool have fostered skepticism about the role of the hand-made as an indicator of artistic genius or authenticity, a doubt that has found an outlet in a wide variety of paintings and artistic practices since the 1960s. This ambivalence toward the hand inspired the title of this exhibition, Phantom Limb, which brings together a wide cross-section of painterly activity by artists who are defining the terms by which we understand this tradition today.
James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator Michael Darling examines key works in the exhibition.