Beauty and Bite combines aesthetic seduction and urgent issues

Exhibition opens July 20, features recent acquisitions of work by Frank Moore, Kara Walker, Nayland Blake, Nan Goldin, Nancy Grossman, William Kentridge, Glenn Ligon

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (July 9, 2019) — The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College announces the opening of Beauty and Bite, an exhibition featuring work from the Museum’s collection, including many recent acquisitions, that offer both aesthetic seduction and the examination of difficult questions around issues of race, gender, sexuality, and history. The exhibition opens Saturday, July 20, and runs through Sunday, January19, 2020.

Most of the work is being shown at the Tang for the first time. This includes selections from an extensive archive of artist Frank Moore’s drawings related to his and Jim Self’s film and ballet Beehive from the mid-1980s. Beehive tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world in which humans have merged with bees into a new species. The drawings include costume and set designs and exploratory sketches. The archive is a gift of the Gesso Foundation. The film Beehive won a 1985 Bessie and will be on view in the gallery.

The exhibition’s title comes from a description of Moore’s work in his New York Times obituary, which said he was “a painter and AIDS activist whose jewel-like allegories brought beauty and bite to themes of scientific progress, environmental pollution and the medical establishment.” The exhibition uses “beauty and bite” as an organizing principle for artwork that engages theatricality, appropriation, and other means to interrogate time and memory—particularly the mythologies and lore that often disguise or suppress harsh realities and histories—as well as social constructions of identity and other urgent issues.

The complete set of Kara Walker’s 27-screenprint series The Emancipation Approximation, 1999–2000, for example, looks at imagined depictions of Civil War-era Southern life, slavery, power, stereotypes, and sexuality while tying in themes of Greek mythology throughout the narrative. The work is a gift of Michael Jenkins and Javier Romero.

Other recent acquisitions being shown at the museum for the first time are:

  • A selection of work by Nayland Blake, including Versace Hood, 1992, gift of the Hort Family Collection; Headlight, 1993, a gift of Eileen Harris Norton; The Little One, 1994, a gift of John Silberman in honor of Jack Shear; and Scarecrow, 1995, a gift of Peter Norton

  • Selections from a complete edition of Cibachrome prints of Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1979–1986, The Jack Shear Collection of Photography at the Tang Teaching Museum

  • Nancy Grossman’s Rust & Blue (Yuma), 1967, gift of halley k harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld

  • William Kentridge’s video Tango for Page Turning, 2012–2013, Tang purchase in partnership with the New Media Arts Consortium, a collaboration of the art museums at Bowdoin College, Brandeis University, Colby College, Middlebury College, Mount Holyoke College, and Skidmore College

  • The complete set of 10 prints from Glenn Ligon’s Runaways, 1993, gift of Jack Shear

Beauty and Bite is curated by Mellon Collections Curator Rebecca McNamara and is supported by Accelerate: Access and Inclusion at The Tang Teaching Museum, a project of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About Accelerate: Access and Inclusion at The Tang Teaching Museum

Accelerate: Access and Inclusion at The Tang Teaching Museum is an ambitious three-year project at The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College that explores new ways in which the museum’s collection can ignite intellectual curiosity and thoughtful engagement through deeper understandings of compelling issues. This project is realized through exhibitions, public dialogues, new scholarship, and publications, catalyzed by the ideas and issues of work in the Tang collection. The project is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About the Tang Teaching Museum

The Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College is a pioneer of interdisciplinary exploration and learning. A cultural anchor of New York’s Capital Region, the institution’s approach has become a model for academic art museums across the country with exhibition programs and series that bring together the visual and performing arts with fields of study as disparate as history, astronomy, and physics. The Tang has one of the most rigorous faculty-engagement initiatives in the nation, the Mellon Seminar, and robust publication and touring exhibition initiatives that extend the institution’s reach far beyond its walls. The Tang Teaching Museum’s building, designed by architect Antoine Predock, serves as a visual metaphor for the convergence of ideas and exchange the institution catalyzes. The museum is open from noon to 5 pm on Tuesday through Sunday, with extended hours until 9 pm on Thursday, and is closed on Mondays and holidays.

Media Contact
Michael Janairo
Head of Communications
Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College

Pattern by Jonnea Herman ’18
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