What is it about the crowd — the mob, mass, multitude, horde, swarm — that captivates people? Crowds have fascinated writers, artists, and social theorists for decades. Every day we see crowding — people gathering for an event, traffic on our way to work or school, too many bodies crammed into one place. Crowded brings together an array of images to suggest the variety of ways that crowds permeate our lives, as well as the divergent effects crowds have on us.
A crowd is defined by a large quantity of people or objects gathered together causing a shortage of space. The artworks in this exhibition depict crowded objects, figures, and picture planes to reveal the emotional and psychological consequences of crowding, and at times a combination of contrasting effects. Crowds can cause claustrophobia, loss of individual identity, loneliness, and a feeling of being overwhelmed; they can also prompt jubilation and a sense of community. The artworks in Crowded capture these effects by representing crowds of people that range from seemingly joyful to violent, as well as packed compositions and objects ranging from heaps of trash to indistinct forms.
With the onset of industrialization and urbanization, crowds emerged as a common urban phenomenon and a new subject of inquiry. Several artists in this exhibition display bustling metropolises and their physical effects: a traffic jam, debris, slums.
In addition, Crowded presents images — such as crammed spaces and swarms gathered for entertainment or amusement — that move beyond the notion of the overpopulated urban environment. Some of these artworks indicate how, when acting as a mass, people in a throng tend to follow others without considering their own morals and ethics, which can lead to negative social consequences. However, some hordes, such as those involved in a political demonstration, can also generate positive change. Crowds sometimes make you lose yourself, eliciting responses from frightening to thrilling.
Arranged to evoke experiences encountered in a crowd, Crowded displays artwork spanning over 150 years from the Tang’s Collection by Arman, Eugene Atget, Peggy Bacon, Michael Harrison, Winslow Homer, Lester Johnson, LeRoy Neiman, Eduardo Paolozzi, George Segal, W. Eugene Smith, B. Stroock, Johannes Van Der Beek, Andy Warhol, Emmett Williams, G.B. Wilson, and Garry Winogrand.
Gallery talk and reception with Hilary Knecht, Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 5:30 pm.