To coincide with the artist’s retrospective, BRUCE CONNER: IT’S ALL TRUE, which opened at the Museum of Modern Art on July 3 and continues through October 2, 2016, Senior & Shopmaker Gallery will present a one-person exhibition of photo etchings from Conner’s DENNIS HOPPER ONE MAN SHOW, 1971-73. In their final state, the twenty-six images that comprise the series were bound into three leather volumes; the gallery will exhibit rare unbound prints from the collection of the Conner Family Trust in San Francisco.
The genesis for this print project dates back to the late 1950s, when Conner began a series of paper collages using fragments of 19th-century engraved illustrations styled on those by French Surrealist Max Ernst. Conner’s collages depict a surreal, hallucinatory universe populated by images of flora and fauna, machine parts, and disembodied figures. His use of disparate appropriated and recycled materials parallel the techniques used to make the films and assemblages for which he is well known. Interested in shifting personas and subverting traditional notions of authorship, Conner attributed this body of work to his friend and fellow Kansas native, Dennis Hopper. The unwillingness in the mid-1960s of his Los Angeles dealer Nicholas Wilder to exhibit the work under another’s name, as well as Conner’s refusal to reveal his own identity, led to their relative obscurity during this time period.
A decade later, these collages became the source material for a series of photo etchings produced with Kathan Brown at Crown Point Press in Oakland, CA and published in 1971-73. In a performative full-circle, Conner returned the collages to their original printed state, producing twenty-six etchings bound in three black leather volumes and titled collectively DENNIS HOPPER ONE MAN SHOW VOLUMES I–III. Conner printed a limited number of unbound etchings, which will be on view in the exhibition. Acting simultaneously as artwork and as foil for a larger conceptual project, this series is considered by many to be among Conner’s major works.
The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an essay by Rachel Federman, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Drawings at the Morgan Library & Museum and former Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Senior & Shopmaker Gallery is the exclusive representative of Bruce Conner’s editioned work from the Conner Family Trust.
BRUCE CONNER: IT’S ALL TRUE is the artist’s first monographic museum exhibition in New York and the first complete retrospective of his 50-year career. It brings together over 250 objects, from film and video to painting, assemblage, drawing, prints, photography, photograms, and performance from Conner’s varied oeuvre. Organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the show will travel there in October 2016 and to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, in February 2017.