The Age of Ambiguity

29 Jan — 5 Mar 2017 at the Vito Schnabel Gallery in Saint Moritz, Switzerland

11 JANUARY 2017
Rashid Johnson, The Crowd, 2016, White ceramic tile, black soap, and wax. 73 x 94 1/2 x 2 1/2 in(185.42 x 240.03 x 6.35 cm)JOHR_0025. Courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery. Photo by Martin Parsekian
Rashid Johnson, The Crowd, 2016, White ceramic tile, black soap, and wax. 73 x 94 1/2 x 2 1/2 in(185.42 x 240.03 x 6.35 cm)JOHR_0025. Courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery. Photo by Martin Parsekian

Vito Schnabel Gallery is pleased to present The Age of Ambiguity: Abstract Figuration / Figurative Abstraction, a group exhibition that will mark Bob Colacello’s curatorial debut. The show will explore the increasingly blurred lines between abstraction and figuration within the contemporary discourse. Artists include Jean-Michel Basquiat, The Bruce High Quality Foundation, Jeff Elrod, Jacqueline Humphries, Rashid Johnson, Jeff Koons, Adam McEwen, Sterling Ruby, Borna Sammak, Julian Schnabel, Andy Warhol and Jonas Wood.

Colacello writes “As the 21st century grapples its way through its second decade, America seems to have entered what may be called The Age of Ambiguity, a time when everything is fluid and nothing concrete, and confusion overwhelms certainty…It is said that the best artists are the antennae of their society, the prophets of their era. Is it any wonder, then, that many younger American painters and sculptors have long abandoned the bygone absolutisms of Minimalism on one hand and Hyper-Realism on the other and are making works today that hover in a hard to define space that might be called Abstract Figuration or Figurative Abstraction?”

The earliest work in the exhibition is Andy Warhol’s 1987 Camouflage, which is simultaneously an abstract pattern picture and a representation of classic military fatigues. Colacello notes that Warhol was constantly searching for a way to make “abstract art that’s not really abstract.” Similarly, Rashid Johnson’s The Crowd fuses the abstract and the figurative to create a contemporary portrait of simultaneous anger and unity. Jacqueline Humphries’ Untitled, with its grid of hundreds of identical small black boxes covering the entire canvas, like the facade of some endless Orwellian bureaucratic office building or a prison out of Kafka, also seamlessly blends these opposing genres with a haunting result.

Bob Colacello is an esteemed writer and journalist covering the cultural, social and political spheres as a Special Correspondent at Vanity Fair since 1984. He is well-regarded for his work with Andy Warhol and Interview magazine in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. A year after beginning his career as a film critic at the Village Voice in 1970, Colacello was hired by Warhol and soon became the managing editor and art director of Interview, which he ran until 1983. Colacello became one of Warhol’s closest aides and confidants, helping him write his books, most notably The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again. In 1990, Colacello published a memoir of his years at Warhol’s factory, Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Up Close, which was reissued by Knopf/Vintage Books in 2014.

Vito Schnabel Gallery was founded in 2015 by Vito Schnabel. The inaugural exhibition, Urs Fischer: Bruno & Yoyo, featured all new work and paid homage to Bruno Bischofberger, whose gallery had occupied the space since 2009. In conjunction with the opening show, VSG presented an offsite public art installation by Sterling Ruby, entitled Stoves, in a garden across from the gallery at the Kulm Hotel. The installation reflects the gallery’s ongoing intention to curate this and other public spaces throughout St. Moritz year-round as an extension of its programming.

Prior to opening the gallery in St. Moritz, Vito Schnabel presented exhibitions in varied locations such as Galerie Bruno Bischofberger in Zurich, Switzerland, Acquavella Galleries in New York, a cloistered garden in Venice during the Venice Biennale, photographer Richard Alvedon’s former studio, and the Farley Post Office in New York, carefully matching artists’ work with unique and temporary exhibition settings. In February 2015, he curated an exhibition of Ron Gorchov’s paintings at Sotheby’s S|2 in London, and in May, he presented a group show at the historic Germania Bank Building on the Bowery. which had not been open to the public since the mid-1960s. The exhibition included works by Joe Bradley, Dan Colen, Jeff Elrod, Ron Gorchov, Mark Grotjahn, Harmony Korine, and Julian Schnabel. In addition to the St. Moritz gallery, Schnabel has an office and private exhibition space in New York City where he conducts his daily operations.