SAN FRANCISCO, CA (July 19, 2016)—The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announces its presentation of Bruce Conner: It’s All True, the first comprehensive retrospective of the seminal American artist and influential Bay Area figure, on view from October 29, 2016 through January 22, 2017. Organized by SFMOMA, the exhibition brings together more than 250 objects in mediums including film and video, painting, assemblage, drawing, prints, photography, photograms and performance, representing Conner’s intensely productive and polymathic career.
“The often radical shifts in direction of Conner’s artistic practice, the parallel interest in experimental films and material objects, the playful and often irreverent approach to conventions of institutions and collectors—all of this is a sign of a great artist who made a point of not being categorized as a sculptor or a filmmaker and actively embraced change throughout his life,” said Rudolf Frieling, curator of media arts at SFMOMA. “It then seemed appropriate to make the integration of all these components of his practice the guiding principle for our retrospective."
“Conner, from the beginning of his career in the late 1950s until the time of his death in 2008, was one of the leading artistic figures in the Bay Area, admired by other artists for his artistic integrity and invention,” said Gary Garrels, Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at SFMOMA. “His influence has grown enormously in recent decades, impacting younger artists nationally and internationally including major figures such as Dara Birnbaum and Christian Marclay and emerging artists such as Kevin Beasley and Carol Bove.”
Conner moved to San Francisco from the Midwest in 1957 and, after brief stays in Mexico and other cities throughout the U.S. in the early 1960s, called this city home for the rest of his life. During the course of his extensive career, Conner engaged in close dialogue with SFMOMA curators, conservators and educators, has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions and his work remains an important part of the museum’s permanent collection. An early practitioner of found-object assemblage and a pioneer of found-footage film, he achieved international standing early in his career and was a key member of the underground film community and the flourishing San Francisco art world—from the Beat generation, the 1960s liberation era and the punk generation of the 1970s and 1980s, though defined by none.
Exemplifying the fluidity that is now a hallmark of contemporary art, Conner worked sequentially or often simultaneously in a wide range of mediums. Bruce Conner: It’s All True presents a lifetime of work by Conner, whose transformative practice defies straightforward categorization. In a midcentury cultural landscape marked by extremes of devastation and abundance, Conner emerged as a figure adept at repurposing and recombining the detritus of a consumer-driven and media-dominated culture.The exhibition is loosely organized, both chronologically and thematically, emphasizing Conner’s polymorphic abilities by integrating works across mediums and creating atmospheric shifts and densely-installed presentations.
The initial presentation of Bruce Conner: It’s All True is at The Museum of Modern Art in New York (through October 2, 2016). After SFMOMA, the exhibition will travel to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (February 21–May 22, 2017).