Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies celebrates 20th anniversary

Robert Mapplethorpe, Calla Lily, 1984, Gelatin silver print, edition 6/10, Marieluise Hessel Collection, Hessel Museum of Art, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, Calla Lily, 1984 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.

Founded two decades ago, the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCS) has made a splash in the international art world, its cutting-edge and thought-provoking shows showcasing the curatorial process as much as the art. This being its 20th anniversary, the new season kicks off with a retrospection of sorts. Titled “Matters of Fact,” the show is very much a collaborative project: CCS executive director Tom Eccles, CCS curatorial and program associate Nathan Lee and CCS graduate students Suzy M. Halajian and Alicia Ritson organized the exhibition, while CCS alumnus Kelly Taxter and CCS co-founder Marieluise Hessel have overseen the reinstallation of two historic exhibitions. The opening reception takes place this Sunday, March 18 from 1 to 4 p.m.

“Matters of Fact” focuses on two movements well-represented in the collection: Arte Povera and Pattern and Decoration. It highlights the work of two artists, Robert Mapplethorpe and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, whose works also figure prominently in the collection. Also on view are rarely seen works by Anish Kapoor, Ulrich Rückriem and other prominent artists, several new acquisitions and a presentation of moving images by CCS graduate students.

The Arte Povera sculpture on display – including works by Giovanni Anselmo, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Giuseppe Penone and Gilberto Zorio – is a restaging of a 1992 exhibition curated by Hessel. The 2002 exhibition “Too Much Joy,” a survey of Pattern and Decoration art curated by CCS students, is also being resurrected by alumnus Kelly Taxter, with works by Brad Davis, Valerie Jaudon, Robert Kushner, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Kim MacConnel, Judy Pfaff, Ned Smyth, Robert Zakanitch, Joe Zucker and others.

An adjacent gallery is hung with Robert Mapplethorpe’s black-and-white photographs of flowers, whose cool sensuality will doubtless be a highlight. The display is supplemented by an audio recording of a conversation between the artist and Hessel shortly before Mapplethorpe’s death from AIDS. Another gallery showcases seminal pieces by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, similarly accompanied by samples of the correspondence between the artist and Hessel, including letters, photographs, newspaper clippings and a pair of plastic figurines from Gonzalez-Torres’ collection, many of which he hand-delivered to friends as a final gift before his death in 1996.

Also on view, as mentioned, will be pieces by Ulrich Rückriem, Anish Kapoor and Ernesto Neto, as well recently acquired works by Anne Collier, Isa Genzken, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Robert Heinecken, Marlo Pascual, Martha Rosler, Rosemarie Trockel and Gillian Wearing. Rounding out the exhibition will be the moving-image presentation in the black-box theater by CCS graduate students Suzy M. Halajian and Alicia Ritson and CCS curatorial and program associate Nathan Lee.

“Matters of Fact” will be on view at the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College through May 27. For more information, visit or call (845) 758-7598.




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