The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago presents American artist Anne Collier’s first major exhibition in the United States, which traces her career from 2002 to the present. The self-titled exhibition presents several themes dominant in Collier’s practice during the past decade, including autobiography, pop psychology, the clichés and conventions of commercial photography, and the act of looking or seeing. Curated by MCA Chief Curator Michael Darling, the exhibition is on view November 22, 2014 to March 8, 2015.
Encompassing nearly forty works, the exhibition establishes Collier’s interest in photographing images that are propagated in popular culture -- record-album sleeves, magazines, coffee-table books, Hollywood film stills, and pictorial calendars -- set against neutral studio backdrops. Collier’s cool and detached photographic style, manifested in large-scale color prints, eliminates any unnecessary artifice between viewers and the material she finds so fascinating.
Working in the wake of feminism, representations of women and the gaze are paramount in her practice. Collier shows how a leering sexism has long guided the advertising of photographic products as well as the culture of photography magazines. In her long-standing photographic series Woman With A Camera, Collier highlights a certain type of film heroine, who is suddenly empowered when a camera is placed in her hands. Marilyn Monroe, Faye Dunaway, Jacqueline Bisset, Cheryl Tiegs—all heavily photographed subjects—turn the camera back on the viewer in a feminist reversal of “the male gaze.”
Collier’s work can be understood as following a conceptual artistic tradition inherited from Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and Douglas Huebler, as they too worked with content-laden artifacts of our media age rather than creating new objects. Her work is also influenced by artists such as Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Louise Lawler, and Laurie Simmons, who are part of the Pictures Generation and known largely for their work in appropriation of images from a media-saturated culture. Born and raised in California, Collier’s work also reflects her exposure to California culture and lifestyle.
Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated catalogue with essays by Michael Darling and Chrissie Iles, the Whitney Museum of American Art Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator, and a creative essay by the novelist Kate Zambreno, noted for her writings about women and myths of modernism.
Anne Collier (born 1970) lives and works in New York City. She received a MFA from the University of California Los Angeles, and a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts. An internationally exhibited artist, Collier’s works are held in collections around the world. Recent solo exhibitions include the Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; the Modern Institute, Glasgow, Scotland; and Marc Foxx, Los Angeles, CA. She has held teaching positions at the Yale University School of Art and Parsons School of Design in New York, among others.