Cellblock I, Cellblock II, Andrea Rosen Gallery
While the show brings together work that addresses containment, enclosure, and imprisonment, it also questions the frequently unexamined assumption that modern and contemporary art's contents are eminently assessable to viewers either empirically or epistemologically by finding the right key, so that almost by magic an open sesame takes place. Countering this myth of art's ease of access, these shows look at the power of refusal, both formally and in terms of subject matter, when works of art deliberately withhold their contents so that viewers are left with enduring mysteries and disquieting conundrums. A text by Hobbs, describing the deeper intellectual content of Cellblock I and II, is also included for reference.
The foundational concept of Cellblock is very purposefully presented as two distinct shows, representing two completely different yet complementary perspectives. The physical separation of Cellblock I and Cellblock II clarifies their different orientations.
Art historian Dr. Robert Hobbs has held the Rhoda Thalhimer Endowed Chair at Virginia Commonwealth University since 1991 and has been a visiting professor at Yale University for eight years. Before joining VCU, he served as a lecturer at Yale and an associate professor at Cornell University. Recognized as a scholar, teacher, and curator, Hobbs specializes in both late modern and postmodern art. His work joins social history with literary criticism and aesthetics; it also relies on feminist and postcolonial theory. He has published widely and curated dozens of exhibitions, many of which have been shown at important institutions in the U.S. and abroad such as the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Drawing Center (NYC); the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His specific research areas span the twentieth- and twentieth-first centuries, and his publications include monographs on Milton Avery, Alice Aycock, Edward Hopper, Lee Krasner, Mark Lombardi, Sterling Ruby, RoBert Smithson, and Kara Walker. In addition he has written on such mainstream modern and postmodern artists as Hernan Bas, Duane Hanson, Keith Haring, Jonathan Lasker, Mark Lindquist, Malcolm Morley, Robert Motherwell, Beverly Pepper, Richard Pousette-Dart, Neo Rauch, Andres Serrano, Yinka Shonibare, James Siena, Tony Smith, Meredyth Sparks, Frank Stella, Frank Thiel, Kelley Walker, John Wesley, and Kehinde Wiley, among others.
Robert Hobbs will co-curate the Bahamian Pavilion for the forthcoming Venice Biennale in 2013, with an exhibition of works by Tavares Strachan. This follows his appointment in 1982 as the U.S. Commissioner/Curator for the Venice Biennale for his exhibition "RoBert Smithson: Sculpture," which had previously been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and his appointment in 2002 as Curator for the São Paulo Biennial for the exhibition "Kara Walker: Slavery! Slavery!"
Image: Peter Halley, Rectangular Prison with Smokestack, 72 x 124" (183 x 315 cm), acrylic, Roll-a-Tex/canvas, 1987,© Peter Halley, Courtesy Mary Boone, New York