Beginning October 6, The Bronx Museum of the Arts will present Tony Feher, the first in-depth retrospective of work by the artist. The exhibition will include 60 pieces that show the evolution of Feher’s practice over the last 25 years. Feher builds sculptures out of found objects including bottles, boxes, bags, and string by stacking, dangling, aligning, and folding them. Relying heavily on materials that would otherwise be regarded as useless, his pieces at once encourage a reexamination of everyday experiences and comment on the relationship between ephemerality and permanence. The exhibition was organized by Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston and Director and Chief Curator Claudia Schmuckli. It will be on view at The Bronx Museum through February 9, 2014.
Over three decades, Feher’s distinctive material vocabulary has included marbles (collected in glass jars or spread across the floor to give audiences a birds-eye perspective reminiscent of Feher’s own as he walks down city streets looking for materials); soda crates (transformed from unwieldy containers destined for landfills into large-scale geometric sculptures); and plastic bottles (often lined up and filled with brightly colored liquids that form a wave-like line between the bottles). Feher seeks to accentuate the distinct but often overlooked characteristics of these “everyday” objects, revealing the urban landscape in which they were used and discarded and enabling viewers to see them-and the experiences that happen around them-anew.
Colorful and playful, Feher’s work is also imbued with deep questions about the transience of objects, experience, and life itself, the result of coming of age in a time and place dominated by the overwhelming sense of endangerment brought on by the AIDS epidemic. Feher addresses this crisis in his work through a humanistic lens, bringing permanence and beauty to objects that would otherwise be discarded.
“Tony Feher brings joy to objects we often overlook and simultaneously reminds us to think critically about the fleeting nature of life itself,” said Holly Block, director of The Bronx Museum. “The objects he reframes are ones that were found here in New York City, so our audiences will be intimately familiar with seeing them in one context, and, I expect, happily surprised to see them in another. In this way, the encouragement he offers to reexamine objects and life will be particularly salient here and makes The Bronx Museum a perfect place to reflect on 25 years of his career.”
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1956, Feher grew up mostly in Corpus Christi, Texas, with early stops in Florida and Virginia, and eventually pursued a BA from the University of Texas. He now lives in New York City. Feher has exhibited extensively in the United States and internationally. His work can be found in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Baltimore Museum of Art; Dallas Museum of Art; the DesMoines Art Center; La Coléccion Jumex, Mexico City; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.
The Bronx Museum of the Arts is an internationally recognized cultural destination that presents innovative contemporary art exhibitions and education programs, and is committed to promoting cross-cultural dialogues for diverse audiences. Since its founding in 1971, the Museum has played a vital role in the Bronx by helping to make art accessible to the entire community and connecting with local schools, artists, teens, and families through its robust education initiatives. In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Museum implemented a universal free admission policy, supporting its mission to make arts experiences available to all audiences.
The Bronx Museum was selected by the U.S. Department of State to serve as their partner for smARTpower, a major initiative to send visual artists abroad. The unprecedented partnership facilitated visual artists traveling around the globe to collaborate with local artists and youth to create socially engaged art projects. The Museum is the commissioning institution for the U.S. Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale where it is presenting new work by Sarah Sze.
The Museum’s collection comprises over 1,000 modern and contemporary artworks in all media and highlights work by artists of African, Asian, and Latin American ancestry, as well as artists for whom the Bronx has been critical to their development. Located on the Grand Concourse, the Museum’s home is a distinctive contemporary landmark designed by the internationally renowned firm Arquitectonica.
Tony Feher has been organized by Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston. The exhibition and accompanying programming is made possible, in part, by The Cecil Amelia Blaffer von Furstenberg Endowment for Exhibitions and Programs, Houston Endowment Inc., ACME., Anthony Meier Fine Arts, Hiram Butler and Devin Borden, D'Amelio Terras, Jennifer and Jeff Eldredge, The Pace Gallery, Despina Papafote Caldwell and Don Ballard, Julie A. Cohn and John A. Connor, Douglas and Jennifer Bosch, Martha Claire Tompkins, Sissy and Denny Kempner, Mary and Bernard Arocha, Leslie and Brad Bucher, Hiendarsanti Darmodjo, Heidi and David Gerger, Theodore J. Lee and Marc A. Sekula, Judy and Scott Nyquist, and Kenneth and Michelle Zagorski. Additional support comes from Houston Arts Alliance and Texas Commission on the Arts.
Support for Tony Feher at The Bronx Museum of the Arts was provided by the generosity of Mark Diker, Anthony Meier Fine Arts, Andrew J. and Sarah M. Meigs, Renwick Fine Art Services, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., and other individuals.
Tony Feher has previously been seen at the DesMoines Art Center, Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston, and deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Liconln, Massachusettes. Following its presentation at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, the exhibition will travel to the Akron Art Museum from April 12 through August 17, 2014.