In 1970, Japanese artist On Kawara sent a series of telegrams to his Dutch gallerist that proclaimed, “I am still alive.” The simplicity of the message, coupled with the austerity of the medium, creates the ambivalent impression of a profound truth expressed in almost immaterial form. This exhibition brings together works from the 1950s to today that exemplify such expressions of a personal existence in the world with decidedly conceptual, ephemeral, even opaque means. Embracing formal languages that can seem startling or difficult in their conceptual conceits or idiosyncratic references, the artists in this exhibition nonetheless comment—often directly—on the state of the world around them, highlighting their place within it or simply attesting to the existence of an outside reality full of conflicts, politics, and life. Additional artists in the exhibition include León Ferrari, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Marine Hugonnier, Lee Lozano, Mangelos, and Robert Morris, among others.

Organized by Christian Rattemeyer, The Harvey S. Shipley Miller Associate Curator of Drawings, with Maura Lynch, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings.

The exhibition is made possible by Lawrence B. Benenson.