Chain Reaction:
Rube Goldberg and Contemporary Art

Chain Reaction looked to the influential early twentieth-century cartoonist Rube Goldberg to set the stage for contemporary artists engaged with humorous explorations of mechanical devices and functions. Goldberg's critique of the industrial era at the turn of the century includes a cache of drawings describing fantastic machines that satirically celebrate the unnecessary complication of simple tasks. Goldberg drew thousands of these hilarious, madcap inventions, born of his fascination with engineering structures as well as his appreciation of vaudeville comedy. Chain Reaction combined more than 50 original drawings from the Williams College Museum of Art's singular collection of original Goldberg material with contemporary paintings, video, sculpture, and site-specific installations that celebrate rudimentary processes and illogical organization. Exhibited together for the first time, Goldberg’s drawings and recent works by these inventive artists engaged in a fascinating visual exchange and raised stirring questions about the role of the mechanical in today’s increasingly electronic age.

A newly commissioned poem by Lawrence Raab, Morris Professor of Rhetoric at Williams College, and a new computer animation/flipbook by artist Dean Snyder accompanied the exhibition. There is also a catalogue that features a dialogue with the artists by Ian Berry.

Artists in this exhibition included William Bergman, Steven Brower, Diana Cooper, Roman de Salvo, Sam Easterson, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Arthur Ganson, Tim Hawkinson, Martin Kersels, Alan Rath, Jovi Schnell, Jeanne Silverthorne, and Dean Snyder.

Exhibition Name
Chain Reaction:
Rube Goldberg and Contemporary Art
Exhibition Type
Group Exhibitions
Place
Wachenheim Gallery
Dates
Jan 26, 2002 - Apr 14, 2002
Curators
Chain Reaction is organized by Ian Berry, Curator, Tang Teaching Museum.
Artists
William Bergman, Steve Browner, Diane Cooper, Roman de Salvo, Sam Easterson, Fischli and Weiss, Arthur Ganson, Rube Goldberg, Tim Hawkinson, Martin Kersels, Alan Rath, Jovi Schnell, Jeanne Silverthorne, Dean Snyder
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