In 1996 Adrian Piper wrote, “It seemed that the more clearly and abstractly I learned to think, the more clearly I was able to hear my gut telling me what I needed to do, and the more pressing it became to do it.” Since the 1960s, this uncompromising artist and philosopher has explored the potential of Conceptual art—work in which the concepts behind the art takes precedence over the physical object—to challenge our assumptions about the social structures that shape the world around us. Often drawing from her personal and professional experiences, Piper’s influential work has directly addressed gender, race, xenophobia, and, more recently, social engagement and self-transcendence.
Bringing together over 290 works, including drawings, paintings, photographs, multimedia installations, videos, and performances, the exhibition offers a rare opportunity to experience her provocative and wide-ranging artwork. Occupying the Museum’s entire sixth floor and the Marron Atrium, Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions 1965–2016 charts the artist’s five-decade career, including early paintings inspired by the use of LSD; key projects such as Mythic Being (1973), in which Piper has merged her male alter ego with entries from her teenage journals; My Calling (Card) #1 and My Calling (Card) #2 (1986), business card–sized, text-based works that confront the reader’s own racist or sexist tendencies; and What It’s Like, What It Is #3 (1991), a large-scale mixed-media installation addressing racist stereotypes, which will be shown in the Marron Atrium.
The result of a four-year collaboration between the artist, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, this is the most comprehensive retrospective of Piper’s work to date.
The exhibition is organized by Christophe Cherix, The Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings and Prints, The Museum of Modern Art; Connie Butler, Chief Curator, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; David Platzker, former Curator, The Department of Drawings and Prints, The Museum of Modern Art; with Tessa Ferreyros, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Museum of Modern Art.