R. H. Quaytman, + ×, Chapter 34, 2018. Distemper and acrylic gesso on wood, 94.1 x 94.1 cm.
For this exhibition, contemporary artist R. H. Quaytman has created a new group of paintings to be shown at the Guggenheim Museum in conjunction with Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, the first exhibition devoted to Hilma af Klint in the United States since Quaytman organized a survey of the Swedish artist’s work at New York’s P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in 1989. In these new paintings, Quaytman will engage af Klint’s aesthetic language and spiritually charged subject matter, reexamining both through the lens of the Guggenheim Museum’s founding ethos. Those ideals were indebted to the art and theories of Vasily Kandinsky, who believed deeply in abstraction’s transcendent potential, and culminated with the commissioning of Frank Lloyd Wright to design a museum that would serve as “a temple of the spirit.” Quaytman’s conceptually charged paintings explore the factors that enable a work of art to generate meaning, whether they be its content, context, or mode of production. The artist’s works are organized into “chapters,” focused groups that build on one another to create an everexpanding, unified bodied of work. The subject matter of each chapter is shaped in response to the context in which it is first shown. Considering the physical space, its history, and present identity, Quaytman embarks on in-depth research, sometimes following idiosyncratic threads that are informed by circumstantial connections or by previous chapters. Quaytman’s decision to conceive of this ongoing project, begun in 2001, as unified and linked was based on the example of af Klint, who understood each of her paintings as part of a larger whole. This exhibition is organized by Tracey Bashkoff, Director of Collections and Senior Curator, with David Horowitz, Curatorial Assistant.
(Photo courtesy of the collection of the artist.)