Beginning December 2, Phoenix Art Museum will present an exploration of the photographic revolution that began during the second half of the 20th century. The Logic of the Copy: Four Decades of Photography in Print spans the period from 1960 through the early 2000s and highlights the influence of artists as diverse as Robert Heinecken, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, James Turrell, and Tacita Dean who began to integrate photography with text and the graphic arts. This explosion of photographic printing was a crucial factor in the transformation that took place in the art world during this time, from the democratization of the artistic economy to the conceptual shift toward cross-disciplinary forms of art. Organized by Phoenix Art Museum in collaboration with its longtime partner, the University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography, The Logic of the Copy will be on view from December 2, 2017 through April 22, 2018 in the Museum’s Norton Photography Family Gallery.
“We are delighted to continue the collaboration between the Museum and the Center for Creative Photography through this exhibition,” said Amada Cruz, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “It is a privilege to showcase the Center’s world-class collection in The Logic of the Copy, and we look forward to sharing these exciting, mixed- media works with our community.”
The hybrid process of photomechanical printmaking was an essential vehicle for change in the art world. Artists working during this period began turning away from Modernism and its emphasis on the essential qualities of and boundaries between different media, and toward the exploration of new forms across artistic disciplines. The explosive popularity of photomechanical printing among artists led to a wide range of multi-faceted, mixed-media works, exemplified by the selections featured in The Logic of the Copy: artist’s books and portfolios by artists hoping to expand their economic possibilities beyond the gallery system; large-scale prints by painters who were experimenting with photographs alongside more traditional media; and small works derived from commercial objects, from postcards and tarot cards to politically- charged images overlaid on magazines.
“The printmaking and photography booms are an especially crucial period of study, as the same concerns that motivated these artists are relevant in today’s digital environment,” said Andrew Kensett, curatorial assistant and the acting assistant curator at the Center for Creative Photography. “The practices of sharing images widely, using art as a medium for social and political engagement, and promoting the general democratization of art were at the forefront for artists working in print during this period, and their history is inextricably tied to our present moment.”
Taking its title from a line in “Photography’s Expanded Field,” George Baker’s 2005 essay investigating the overlap between photography and related media, The Logic of the Copy will bring together a wide range of artists who worked with photographs in print. In addition to the artists mentioned above, the exhibition will include examples of pioneering artist’s books by makers including John Baldessari, Susan King, Bruce Nauman, Ed Ruscha, Keith Smith, and Clarissa Sligh, and prints by Thomas Barrow, James Casebere, Jim Dine and Lee Friedlander, Betty Hahn, Mark Klett, Sherrie Levine, Sigmar Polke, and others.