Beatriz Milhazes. Succulent Eggplants. 1996. Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 74 3/4 × 96 1/2″ (189.9 × 245.1 cm). Gift of Agnes Gund and Nina and Gordon Bunshaft Bequest Fund. © 2007 Beatriz Milhazes

What Is Painting? is the fourth in a series of installations drawn from the Museum’s collection of contemporary art. It presents a selection of artworks made since approximately 1965, including a number of recent acquisitions and many works displayed for the first time since the Museum’s reopening. A variety of responses to the question “What is painting?” are proposed in loose chronological sequence, ranging from ironic to sincere; from figurative to abstract; and from an embrace and creative reimagining of painting’s possibilities to a critical engagement with its limits. The installation’s title derives from John Baldessari’s eponymous painting of 1966–68 (with the addition of a question mark), acknowledging the ongoing debates over the practice of painting and its place within contemporary art.

Organized by Anne Umland, Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

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